Mayor Steve Hagerty in his state of the city address today said Evanston needs to expand its tax base through new development.
“If we want our city to remain the attractive, vibrant and special place that it is,” Hagerty said, “We can’t stop looking for opportunities.”
“There are opportunities everywhere,” he said, “And we need to seize them.”
The luncheon address was hosted by the Evanston Chamber of Commerce at the newly renovated Holiday Inn on Sherman Avenue.
Hagerty noted new development projects — like the new apartment development on Emerson Street that just broke ground. He said would add up to 350 residents to the city and almost $1 million in additional property tax revenue — with two-thirds of that money going to the schools.
Library board member Ben Shapiro with Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, at the state of the city luncheon.
And he also pointed to new businesses — from Colectivo Coffee, scheduled to open this spring in the old Radio Shack space at Church and Sherman, to Cafe Coralie, that opened last month in the old police outpost on Howard Street.
“If we want more visitors spending money in our community, we need to build new amenities and attract cultural institutions,” Hagerty said.
Alluding to the 37-story Northlight Theatre project on Sherman Avenue, withdrawn last week by its developers amid complaints that it was too tall, Hagerty said, “We want Northlight back in Evanston,” so the 50,000 people who attend its productions will will be dining in Evanston.
But, he added, “Our community will have to accept change to bring them back, and sacrifices will have to be made by all of us.”
The mayor also noted that the city’s jobless rate is down to 3.8 percent and said more than 80 new businesses opened in town last year.
He basked in the glow of several reports proclaiming Evanston as one of the best place to live in the nation and pledged that the city would continue to work on efforts — from preventing climate change to reducing crime — to make it even better.
Copies of the city’s new annual report were distributed to guests at the luncheon. An online version of the report is available here