Developer Bob King of Carroll Properties says he’s reviving plans for two high-rise buildings on Emerson Street in downtown Evanston.

King, in a phone interview this morning with Evanston Now, said that he’s switched gears to eliminate the plan for condos in the development and instead build all rental apartments. He added that he also has a new partner in the project.

King said the projects should meet the requirements of the existing planned developments, which as approved by the city called for an 18-story building at the corner of Emerson and Oak Avenue and a 14-story one at the corner of Emerson and Maple Avenue.

In the original plan the 1881 Oak building had been envisioned as a condominium development, while the 1890 Maple building was to offer rental apartments.

The Maple and Emerson corner is now occupied by a vacant three-story office building. The Emerson and Oak corner is an empty lot.

King said Carroll Properties hopes to start construction on the project “as soon as we can” because construction costs have continued to go up, despite the recession, and now there’s “a very posiive interest rate environment” that may not last.

He said both buildings as now planned may be a little smaller than originally approved — with the Emerson and Oak building perhaps two stories shorter than its approved 18-story height.

Of the projects, initially approved in 2006 and 2007, King said, “Unfortunately we got involved at the top of the market, and there’s obviously been a terrible hiatus.”

Getting things going again “will be good for the neighborhood and the city” bringing in over $1 million in new taxes for the city and new residents to patronize the downtown commercial district, King added.

Plans to include a Trader Joe’s market in the development fell through, and King says the retail component in the project now will be smaller than originally planned. A Trader Joe’s is now being developed on Chicago Avenue instead.

Update: 11:45 a.m.: Evanston’s community and economic development director, Steve Griffin, says the revisions to the project will require City Council approval.

Griffin said city staff met with the developers last week and received initial plans for the revised project late in the week. He says it will take another week or two for staff to analyze the proposals and determine exactly what revisions may be required and whether they’ll be treated as minor or major under the city’s planned development ordinance.

He said the new project plans reduce the proposed height of the 1881 Oak building from 185 to 165 feet and that the new plans for the 1890 Maple site call for a building 13 feet shorter than before.

He says the plans call for a total of 26 more dwelling units than the 342 origiinally proposed for the two buildings. He identified the new development partner on the project as Steve Fifield of  Fifield Companies.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, whose 2nd Ward includes the project site, was not immediately avalable for comment.

Top: A 2007 rendering of the two proposed buildings and their surroundings, looking southwest from Emerson and Maple.


Earlier stories on the Carroll Properties projects on Emerson

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. What will he offer this time?

    King got his approval for the project several years ago on the basis of bringing Trader Joe's into downtown Evanston and leasing them the ground floor space of one of the two buildings.

    This time he has no Trader Joe's to offer, but only the apartment buildings and empty retail spaces. What will he use to induce approval? Affordable rentals or just students?

    By the way, too bad that he didn ot come back onto the scene six months ago since his building did not require the City to buy up parts of Chicago Avenue and spend lots of taxpayer money for TJ.

    His loss as well as ours

  2. Is Evanston building too many rental apartments?

    There are four large scale rental buildings going up in Evanston, adding hundreds of new rental units.  These two high rises would add several hundred more rentals.

    It's good these projects are happening but Evanston is becoming a renters paradise. I would rather see more people own than rent.

    It's too bad TJ's didn't wait to build on Emerson. I think it's a better location. Does anyone think the three grocery stores next to each other on Chicago Avenue are going to thrive? When one of them closes what will aldermen and the city manager say then? Not a big deal, it's just $2 million of taxpayer's money?

    Time to raise taxes again!

  3. Great news

    Sounds great to me, larger tax base, more customer support for existing business and by extension, more support for local jobs.  Who cares about Trader Joes being there or not being there, irrelevant, Trader Joes is on Chicago ave and will thrive there, time to move on.

    He shouldn't have to do squat to "induce" approval.  If the proposal meets requirements under the existing planned development ordinance and he feels there is a big enough market demand and will risk his money to meet that demand, than that is all that is needed.  No further B.S. to "induce" approval.   

    Bravo and best wishes Mr. Bob King, thanks for investing in Evanston, hope you get to build that project without too much undue harrassment.

  4. Finally

    It is refreshing to see yet another major transit oriented development moving forward in Evanston.We should revisit whether all of the parking spaces are still required.

    Congratulations Evanston.

  5. Bravo to density

    Density is the only way to go moving forward. That's why we need to build up. If you don't build up, then eventually we build out, = sprawl. 

  6. High-Rise Development is Good

    These high-rise buildings should show the cities capabilities in infrastructure development. Just look at chinese development and compare it to Emerson to easily conclude that reviving these plans is highly benefitial to the survival and development for any city. However it further shows that one should avoid the same mistakes of overdevelopment and shows China a good example. Overall the approval of this project is fantastic news!

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