Fifield Cos. and Carroll Properties held groundbreaking ceremonies late this morning for a project they’re calling E2 — two apartment towers on Emerson Street with a total of 356 rental units.

Fifield principal Randy Fifield and two of her children pose with Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward.

Fifield Cos. and Carroll Properties held a groundbreaking ceremony late this morning for a project they’re calling E2 — two apartment towers on Emerson Street with a total of 356 rental units.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said she had supported the project from its start seven years ago as two separate buildings — one planned for condominums, the other a rental project.

After that original concept stalled during the real estate collapse, Rainey said, it was difficult to get some aldermen to accept the idea of getting it moving again — now as two rental buildings with a single shared parking platform at the base — without putting it through a lengthy second review by the Plan Commission.

“But once the city gets on board with the plan, we’ll be with you all the way,” she told the development team. “Even those who didn’t support the project will forget that and cooperate on getting it done.”

Randy Fifield, vice chair and principal at Fifield Cos., said the new buildings would have even better amenities than most condominium developments — with a pool, gym, theater and even a basketball court.

And she pitched the rental option as a better choice than buying a condo. “With a condo you have a mortgage, an assessment and a tax bill,” she said. “At E2, you just have to write one check — for rent.”

A rendering of the planned development, displayed on an easel at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Her husband, Fifield’s Chairman and CEO Steve Fifield, said the 12 street-level three-story town homes included in the project will fill an underserved niche in the market.

The townhomes range from 1,600 to 1,750 square feet. Apartments in the towers will range from 500 to 1,300 square feet with studios and one-to-three bedroom layouts.

He said the sale last month of the recently completed 1717 Ridge Ave. building for a price as high as for a downtown Chicago apartment tower shows the strong demand for top-quality projects in the Evanston market.

While little activity was visible at the construction site during the groundbreaking ceremony, Fifield said the construction team had already sunk 120 caissons 75-feet into the ground to provide a base for the 16- and 14-story towers.

Bob King of Carroll Properties.

Developer Bob King said the project would have “a transformative impact” on the immediate area on the north edge of downtown and said the $100 million development would be the best project ever built in Evanston.

The new apartments are scheduled to be available for occupancy in the second quarter of 2015.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Will this project meet city code?

    I assume that a percentage of these units will be offered to low income renters or that a contribution will be made for low income housing in other parts of Evanston.  Any idea on what those numbers are?  Just asking!

    1. No such requirement

      The city has no "affordable housing" requirement for rental planned developments. It ostensibly has one for condo planned developments — which it imposed just in time for the housing market collapse.

      The mayor tried to impose one at the last minute on the North Shore Residence renovation project earlier this year, but the City Council rejected that after the developer said it would kill the deal.

      — Bill

  2. Oh dear — what an unfortunate name

    There was another E2 in the area in the not-so-distant past. It was a nightclub in Chicago where more than two dozen people died in a rush for the exit. It's still in the newspaper every once in a while.

    It looks like a great project. But I would think that any developer would want to pick another name to avoid any association with that tragedy.

  3. What is the status of the proposed Emerson Superhighway?

    Originally the developer wanted the city to remove parking on both sides of the street to create a four lane road down Emerson from Ridge to Sherman.

    What is the status of that proposal?

    1. Parking on Emerson

      Actually, it was the city engineering staff that wanted to remove the parking — because of concern about potential increased traffic — and it was only to be removed on the south side of Emerson.

      As I recall, the last word heard on the issue was that Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, responding to concerns from bicyclists about the potential for speeding cars on the city bike route on Emerson, had suggested the city wait-and-see what traffic looks like after the project is completed before making the parking change.

      Can't recall whether that suggestion was actually formally adopted.

      — Bill

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