A developer plans to build seven live-work townhouse condominiums on the northeast corner of Lake Street and Ashland Avenue in Evanston.

A model of the project, looking northeast from Penny Park.

The proposal, reviewed by the city’s site plan committee Wednesday, would restore a small commercial district at the intersection that was once anchored by a neighborhood grocery store later turned into a church and a row of storefronts that included the Drummer Drapery shop.

Those buildings were demolished last year.

Developers John Cunningham and Tom Engel say the new three-and-a-half story units, three facing Lake and four facing Ashland, would have retail or office space on the first floor with living space above.

The buildings, designed by Evanston architect Ellen Galland of Rockwell Associates, would feature frame construction and HardiPlank fiber cement siding.

Cunningham, Galland
Developer Tom Engel with architect Ellen Galland at the site plan meeting.

The property is zoned B-1 which permits the combined commercial and residential use.

Community Development Director James Wolinski said, “It would have been so easy to ask to rezone the land to R4 and jam a large number of townhouses on the site. To retain the commercial character with live-work is really exciting. I can’t think of a better use for this property.”

The site is diagonally across the street from Penny Park and the Lake Street side faces the Seattle Sutton shop at 1424 Lake St.

The developers say they plan to include an elevator in each unit to make them more accessible.

Each unit will have kitchen, dining and living room space on the second floor, two bedrooms and two baths on the third floor and an additional bedroom with bath and outdoor deck on the fourth floor.

The units are expected to sell for under $800,000. Because no zoning changes are required, construction could start as early as next month.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Homes for ture low income families
    What about house for low income. I’m a perschool teacher here in Evanston. I was born here and grew up here. I make 22,000 a year and can only get approve for 120,000 to buy a home on my own.

    1. Low income housing
      Hi Angela,
      I just looked at the MLS listings and found 31 condos listed in Evanston at or below $150K. Nothing at $120K, however.
      You might also want to talk to the folks at the Citizens’ Lighthouse Community Land Trust. More info about their latest project is here

    2. careful with the mortgage

      Be careful that you understand the risks with getting a mortgage before signing. I strongly suggest you get a lawyer with real estate expereince to review the contract. ASK if the payments required by the mortgage could change at any point, or are they guaranteed to stay level. Don’t assume that just because the bank is willing to lend you the money that you will be able to afford the payments. You know your expenses better than they do.

      Also consider that you will have to pay property tax and that bill could go up, especially in Evanston. In fact, I would plan it and be prepared for some big tax increases.

  2. How can someone making $22,000 buy a home here?
    The Mayor pointed out today that there are 314 homes in foreclosure. How would someone making $22,000 afford a home here? I would suspect the smallest home would have taxes of at least $3,000. Added in utility cost of $2400. ( water,.gas,electric). What would a mortgage cost? lets say $7,000 to $8,000. – We are up to $13,000. Already lets added another $1,000 for expense on the home. ( if it is a condo it has an assessment) That gives one person about $7,000 a year to live on. I do not think it is very realistic. Given other expenses. Do they own a car? How much is that a few thousand more. That gives someone a few thousand dollars to live on.

    I do not see how someone who is making $22,000 is going to be a homeowner here? Bill you are good with numbers I made some quick estimates. What is your view – the light house group is pitching that home to a family of 5 or 6 making about $60,000 which does not look realistic either.

    People need to be told the truth they need to look at other communities for housing and commute here if they want to work here.

    Maybe Alderperson Moran can donate his excessive city of Evanston medical benifit to help people making $22,000 a year buy homes here?

  3. afford a home on $22k
    The reality is that home ownership at the $22k level is a highly unrealistic expectation. There are plenty of affordable apartments to be had in Evanston. Life is full of compromises and sacrifices. It helps to be happy with what you have, rather than miserable over what you don’t.

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