The value of new construction projects started in Evanston last year fell 26 percent from the record pace of 2005 and was off 19 percent from 2004. December’s numbers were down 59 percent from the prior year to just $5.5 million. 

Construction values

The city gets nearly five percent of its general fund revenue from building permit fees. The fees last fiscal year reached $4.2 million, and despite an increase in fees for multi-million dollar projects, fee revenue is running at a pace that would see it fall just shy of $4 million this year, with two months left to go.

The 2005 numbers were helped by the start of construction on the Sherman Plaa complex in March. In 2006 the biggest single project was work that started in July to expand the Three Crowns retirement community. Exclude those two months in each year and the 2006 numbers are off 22 percent from 2005.

In 2006 new multi-family projects accounted for 32 percent of the total value of construction work. Rehab of existing residential buildings added 28 percent and work on existing business structures added 13 percent.

Schools account for 7 percent and construction of new single family homes represents 5 percent.

The remaining 15 percent is split in to several categories, from condo conversions to new garages.

There was no construction of new industrial buildings in Evanston last year and hardly any work on existing industrial buildings, as industry continues to decline as a source of business activity in the community.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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