Following six years of planning and development, The Mather formally opened its doors today in Evanston.

An ice sculpture, and a more permanent one, adorned one of the buffet tables.

Speaking at grand opening ceremoney for the senior living residence at 425 Davis St., Mather President Mary Leary said, “Not only are we excited about the opening of The Mather, but we are equally pleased that the second phase of the community is moving forward as planned.”

Mather President and CEO Mary Leary.

Leary said 80 of the 141 apartments in the new building are already occupied, just three weeks after residents started moving in. She said almost 90 percent of the units in the first building are pre-sold, as are half the units in the second building.

One of the dining areas in the new building, complete with pizza oven.

Construction of the second building will begin early next year. It’s scheduled to open in late 2011. Located at 450 Davis Street, the building will include 101 apartment homes as well as a 10,000-square-foot fitness center complete with a 20-meter indoor lap pool, whirlpool, sauna, steam showers and day spa.

The two buildings will be connected by a climate-controlled underground corridor.

Former Mayor Lorraine Morton.

Former Evanston Mayor Lorraine Morton, who presided over the City Council during the long debate over the Mather project, said the new building “has brought back to Evanston the old elegance it was known for years ago.”

“The Mather is a welcome addition to the downtown neighborhood as well as the entire City of Evanston,” said Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl. “The fact that it has succeeded in the face of a tough economy is a great example of good planning and following through on their commitments.”

She said aldermen and plan commission members did a tremendous amount of work in reviewing the project before approving it, but added, “I never imagined it would be this gorgeous.”

The approval process involved more than 32 public meetings and dragged on for more than two years.

Mather LifeWays is pursuing Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) status for the second building.

Visitors at the grand opening tour a model apartment.

To staff up at The Mather, Mather LifeWays is adding more than 100 full and part-time employees to its Evanston workforce over the next six to nine months. These positions will include both salaried and hourly jobs ranging from building and dining service, to human resources and accounting staff.

The model apartment’s kitchen.

The Mather was recently named the 2009 Masonry Construction Project of the Year by Masonry Construction Magazine, representing the “best of the best” in masonry construction across the country. Last year, The Mather was named the nation’s “Best Proposed Continuing Care Retirement Community” by the National Active Retirement Association.

The model’s living room features a fireplace and an alcove with a built-in desk.

Prospective residents of The Mather South have the opportunity to select residences from 101 apartment homes and more than 18 floor plans. The Mather sales team is now accepting 10 percent fully-refundable deposits for the south building.

The new building’s fitness center will be turned into a theater once the second building, with a larger fitness center, opens.

In addition to an extensive fitness center, The Mather will feature seven dining venues and lounges, including rooftop dining with views of downtown Evanston, Lake Michigan and Chicago’s skyline; 24-hour concierge service; and “plant-your-own” garden plots as part of nearly two acres of lush gardens. As a Continuing Care Retirement Community, The Mather will also offer onsite health care, should residents ever need it.

More information about job opportunites at Mather LifeWays is available online.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. Congratulations, Mather
    This is going to be nice. A nice and bright new building to replace the gloomy old one ( Friends of Civic Center, take note). New jobs in a time when they are sorely needed. Some of the older residents (like the 6th ward complainers) who no longer need their big houses can now stay in Evanston. I would be happy to have Grandma Who move in to the new Mather.

    Shame on all of those NIMBYs who tried to stop it. You know who you are.

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