New figures from the city’s planning division show that the total of completed new and converted condo units in Evanston now stands at 6,516 — with another 833 units either under construction, approved or proposed.

In the 44 years since the first condominiums were completed in Evanston the city has lived through surges and slow patches in the growth of the housing type here.

Condominiums first arrived in Evanston in 1964 and the earliest condo projects were generally newly-constructed buildings.

More recently the town has seen a mix of new construction and conversions of rental apartment buildings, old mansions and commercial structures to condo units.

So far in this decade the city has seen 1,553 units converted compared to 1,174 completed new construction condos.

With the recent softening of the real estate market, not all the approved condo units are expected to actually be built. Developer Tom Roszak has approval to build another 110 units in the second half of his Sienna project downtown, but is currently seeking approval to build a hotel there instead.

And other projects likely will be delayed. Developers of two other approved projects, at 1700-1722 Central St. and 1885 Oak Ave., have requested extra time from the city to get the projects underway.

Sites of condo developments in Evanston (map is not clickable).

Most condo development has been concentrated east of Ridge Avenue, in what traditionally has been a more densely populated part of the city and one that has ready access to mass transit, downtown and the lakefront.

That’s been supplemented by a secondary cluster of condos running along Central Street in north Evanston.

Evanston’s population peaked around 80,000 in the 1970 census.

With the aging of the generation that bought the single-family homes that completed the build-out of the community after World War II, the number of persons per household declined, contributing to a population decline to 73,233 in 1990.

But with the increase in condo construction, that trend has reversed, so that the latest census bureau survey pegs Evanston’s 2006 population at 75,543.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation

11 Comments

  1. Occupied Condos?
    Do we have figures on how many of these units are occupied? I would find this to be the most significant factor in deciding the height of the downtown building: we should be sure to avoid the possibility of huge empty spaces or worse, multi-landlord rental buildings in Evanston.
    Find out more about Michele Hays or
    Brummel Park Neighbors

    1. Occupied condos
      Hi Michele,
      For accurate figures on how many dwelling units of any type are actually occupied we may have to wait for the results of the 2010 census … likely not available until some time in 2011.
      — Bill

    2. Re: Occupied Condos and Growth – Good Question
      Hi Michele,

      That’s a good question, and one that went through my mind right away after reading the article about Growth Through Condos. I also wondered about how much empty retail space there is out there. It’s a simple fact: empty condos and empty retail spaces don’t contribute as much to our city as full ones do. A developer would probably argue otherwise, but they don’t live here and it’s their job to sell empty spaces.

      To get a handle on empty spaces, you needn’t wait for a census. Just go out to sites like the MLS, Craigslist, and other readily available sites to look for available retail, rental, and real estate and you’ll quickly get a handle on not only how much an average 2 bedroom condo costs, but also how much retail space is available, how much it costs to lease, and what the locations are.

      I’ve done this already, and I can tell you that there is already plenty of available retail and residential space on the market, in almost every price range. And that’s without the already in-progress developments being built out there now.

      For the parking naysayers out there: I’d rather have more than enough parking than not enough, and I’d like to see the city own the majority of it so they can put money in the City coffers. One of the reasons Evanston is so nice right now is because you can find parking easily when you come downtown to eat out. Try to find cheap parking in Lincoln Square or Dearborn/Division street in Chicago sometime and you’ll see what I mean.

  2. Evanston Condos
    Is there any data on the number of condos that are occupied by the actual owners?

    1. Your tax dollars at work
      As part of the new plan to collect a registration fee from owners of all rental apartments in the city, the Community Development Department’s staff has embarked on the process of quizzing all condo associations about which units in their buildings are rented out.
      Stay tuned … in a few months we may have an answer.
      — Bill

  3. New Evanston
    “With the aging of the generation that bought the single-family homes that completed the build-out of the community after World War II, the number of persons per household declined, contributing to a population decline to 73,233 in 1990.

    But with the increase in condo construction, that trend has reversed, so that the latest census bureau survey pegs Evanston’s 2006 population at 75,543.

    This is good news. More residents, especially around the transit lines, is definitely good for the city. More CTA riders make the CTA safer, more Metra riders mean more revenue and political support for Metra, and more downtown residents will mean more downtown businesses.

    Can anyone guess if this demographic shift will have a big impact on the next redistricting ? –which is when, 2013?

    Maybe if the current council is too backwards to approve downtown construction this year, those of us who favor progress and development just need to wait a few more years…as the northwest side depopulates and downtown grows, we might have more forward thinking aldermen in a few years. The last holdouts from quaint old Evanston of yesteryear on Central Street will be replaced by a newer generation from Chicago and Maple Avenues.

    Maybe we will get our new tower at Fountain Square, and modern new Civic Center, if we just wait a few years. Why settle for a truncated less than 49 story tower when we can have our own little Evanston Spire in 2013?

    1. Hoping for redistricting?
      I believe you’re right that the redistricting following the 2010 census should first impact the 2013 municipal election.
      But remember that the population shift is relatively modest.
      And while towers may be monoliths, new residents are not monolithic in their views.
      For example, some new downtown residents are sore that their condos are not appreciating in value at the moment. They may not have pro-growth attitudes in 2013.

      1. NIMBY, the next generation
        And while towers may be monoliths, new residents are not monolithic in their views.
        For example, some new downtown residents are sore that their condos are not appreciating in value at the moment. They may not have pro-growth attitudes in 2013.

        True…and we have already seen that even the newest condo residents are capable of being NIMBY’s – for example, our neighbors at Sherman Plaza who don’t want their view obstructed – and I have seen the names of quite a few downtown condo residents on the ECRD petition.

        Still, I believe that the future belongs to the pro-growth people…even with this anti-tower movement, most of the NIMBY’s appear to be quite old…in a few years, many of them will be in Florida or in the beautiful new Mather building which they tried to prevent. Now it is possible that they will be replaced by a new generation of NIMBY’s, but the people who remember the old, old, Evanston – before the Chase building, before the Rotary building, before liquor licenses…well, their political influence is diminishing. We won’t have to listen to them talk about the “quaint and unique charm” that Evanston will lose every time an old building is replaced.

        The good guys only have to win one time. They can preserve the Radio Shack building today, but eventually it will come down – maybe 5 years from now, maybe 10 – to be replaced by a shiny new tower. {I hope it has lots of glass and steel! I love glass and steel! } Same is true with the civic center….

        Once the good guys win, it is permanent. Even the craziest NIMBY would not suggest now that we tear down Sherman Plaza and put a dilapidated Osco and Woolworth back in its place. { Well…maybe I spoke too soon….I am sure that soon someone will get a petition going to do just that..}

    2. Reply to New Evanston
      You neglected to mention that increased population due to condos also increases traffic congestion, crime, parking requirements and in fact taxes the entire infrastructure of Evanston. It does increase the tax base which the city council wants but at what cost ? Do you really think condo residents will help police the CTA ? You must either be a developer or a former council member who has a financial interest in turning Evanston into a “little Chicago”. Let’s use a little common sense for once and think about what continued condo over development really means.

      1. A little common sense
        You neglected to mention that increased population due to condos also increases traffic congestion, crime, parking requirements and in fact taxes the entire infrastructure of Evanston.

        There is no evidence that condos lead to increased crime, either in terms of absolute numbers or per capita. In fact, empty streets are MORE dangerous than populated streets. Criminals, especially violent ones, prefer to attack when there are no witnesses. It really is that simple, which is why walking Emerson at 3am is more dangerous than walking down the same street at 8pm when it is dark.

        Parking requirements? Let’s use a little common sense, please. We can build a garage for the cars. Those of us who live downtown don’t need street parking. And if we do, just add a meter and the city can reap the windfall.

        Anyway, the only way to prevent ‘parking problems’ is to make the city so dead or undesirable that nobody wants to come here. Parking problems are signs of a healthy city. Maybe that is the real agenda of the NIMBY’s…they want to have plentiful parking when they visit their therapists in the 708 building.

        Traffic congestion? I suspect that those of us who live in Evanston cause a lot less congestion than the many stores that used to exist downtown. Many of us take CTA or Metra to work, and the ‘congestion’ isn’t bad on weekends or evenings.

        It does increase the tax base which the city council wants but at what cost ? Do you really think condo residents will help police the CTA ?

        You just don’t get it, do you? It isn’t about condo residents policing the CTA. A transit car full of people is safer than an empty car. I am not afraid to be on the CTA at 8am – I can’t get a seat, but I do not fear for my safety. An empty CTA car is scary, at any hour. Common sense, please.

        More condo residents -> more CTA & Metra riders – > safer CTA, more financial support for CTA & Metra, more political support for CTA&Metra.

        You must either be a developer or a former council member who has a financial interest in turning Evanston into a “little Chicago”.

        I suspect that you are a developer, who plows over cornfields to build rows of McMansions for people with SUV’s. You are afraid that people will reject that lifestyle.

        This ‘little Chicago’ business is stupid. Evanston is a city. A little city, but it is a city. If we are going to be a little city, I can think of no better city than Chicago. I don’t want it to be a ‘little Detroit’ – a city built around automobiles and no mass transit, where they tear down towers instead of building them. I don’t want it to be a ‘little Los Angeles’, with freeways. Little Chicago’ is fine with me. Some of the nicest and cleanest cities in the world have high density, good public transportation, and high rises .

        Let’s use a little common sense for once and think about what continued condo over development really means.

        Please, let’s use a little commons sense and think first about whether ‘over development’ has in fact occurred, OK? And let’s use a little common sense and think about economics, please. Isn’t it just common sense to put high density housing next to the CTA and Metra hub in downtown Evanston? Doesn’t it make sense that where land is expensive – like on the lakefront – condos make sense?

  4. Hyde Park
    Evanston isn’t the only Chicagoland university town that suffers a NIMBY infestation. I just came across this site from Hyde Park, http://hydeparkprogress.blogspot.com/

    “Common signs of NIMBY DMMCS are breaking into hives on hearing the word “density”, erotic hallucinations at mention of the word “parking”, and allergic reaction to public transportation and the possibility that people from OUTSIDE the neighborhood might want to come INSIDE the neighborhood. The most common sign, however, is the use of ad hoc and contradictory arguments against proposed high-rise or commercial development in the neighborhood.’

    Breaking into hives on hearing the word density? Well, that sounds like the Southeast Evanston Association, or Central Street Neighbors with its infamous “lower population” agenda, or the “let’s be like Glencoe and Wilmette” people.

    ad-hoc and contradictory arguments? yes, we have those…”Tower will create traffic…tower will keep traffic out.” “Preserve zoning continuity” ‘Preserve Class B offices” , etc.

    But the main thing is the fear that ” possibility that people from OUTSIDE the neighborhood might want to come INSIDE the neighborhood” … I see several of these anti-condo, anti-tower arguments mentioning that “national retailers” , “Fat cats from out of town” will come in, and the ‘uniqueness’ (i.e., insularity) of Evanston will be lost. Several of the posters feel it is necessary to mention that they are lifelong residents. They are intolerant and closed minded.

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published.