With one big new development project approved this week in Evanston, another up for approval later in the month, and a third scheduled to break ground next week — here’s a look at how such projects impact everybody else’s property tax bill.

Community Development Director Mark Muenzer says the construction cost estimates for 1571 Maple Ave. approved this week and 1620 Central St. up for approval later this month haven’t been finalized yet, but the project breaking ground next week at 835 Chicago Ave. is expected to cost $32 million to build.

Assistant City Manager Marty Lyons says a $32 million rental project can be expected to generate nearly $762,000 in annual property tax revenue to local governments, once it’s fully occupied.

To do the math to make such an estimate, Lyons says, you take the property value times the 10 percent assessment level times the current 2.80 state equalization multiplier times the current 8.5 percent tax rate.

How big is $762,000? Well it’s about 0.4 percent of the entire amount raised by all local governments from property taxes in Evanston last year.

The values for some other recently-completed projects:

  • $13.8 million for the 80-unit Central Station development 1700 Central St.
  • $15 million for the 63-unit addition to The Merion at 1619 Chicago Ave.
  • $16.2 million for the 114-room hotel under construction at 1515 Chicago Ave.

Those four project together knock about one percent off the average property tax bill citywide.

But despite all this new construction, my property tax bill hasn’t decreased, you say?

Well the bad news is that with the downturn in the real estate market over the past several years the value of all properties in town has been declining. Lyons says it dropped from $2.5 billion to $2.2 billion just last year. That means governments have to tax at higher rates to take in the same amount of revenue.

So, the addition of new projects is reducing, but not eliminating the overall decline in values. And if the value of your property has declined less than the average amount — your tax bill has gone up

Lyons says he’s hoping that — with the gradual recovery of the real estate market — the total value of property in town may start to rise again this year.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Are the units coming from new residents or people just shifting
    From numbers I’ve seen, it looks like most people are just moving around, not new [at least Net] new residents.
    Also an industrial plumber told me the high rises require a lot more water pressure so would have to require more expense to the city [i.e. taxpayers] to retrofit the system for all the added requirements—i.e. water, sewer rates increase and probably additional taxes these did not cover.

    1. What numbers have you seen?

      The Census Bureau estimates that Evanston's population increased by 1,084 people from April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2013, the latest figures available.

      Only two planned developments were completed in Evanston between 2010 and 2013 — AMLI Evanston on Chicago Avenue with 214 units and 1717 Ridge with 175 units. So that's 389 new units — or 2.78 new residents for each new unit.

      — Bill

    2. Correct about the water

      Higher pressures for the water, but building may have pumps,  bigger problem city is not keeping up with the water main repairs, also many areas are not adequate for the fire flows needed. Adding new buildings cost money.

      The mess at the water utility is huge- they recently said no water increase for 3 years, but they also said they were not going to replace  the 30 inch water line under Sherman, they know if it has a major break they will have a big problem. The fire flows are interesting if you remember after they fixed up all the streets downtown they dug them right back up and replace the water pipe, ( fire flow issues).

      Good development and junk development are two different issues, spending money on Wine and Cheese Bars and patios with no real return or when a private developer develops are two different issues, and the council members don't give them any of our tax money!

  2. Construction Schedule for 835 Chicago Ave.?
    Does anyone know how long the construction of 835 Chicago Ave. is scheduled to take? The project’s website,, only states that “phase I” should be completed in June 2015. I am looking forward to the added retail in the area…

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