The start of work on a new laboratory building at Northwestern University has helped drive construction activity in Evanston to what’s believed to be an all-time record high this year.

Construction values

Through the end of November the city has issued permits for $313 million in construction work, compared to $258 million in all of 2005, the previous high point.

The $50 million Silverman Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory brought the city a $1 million dollar check from the university for permit fees.

The previous high month this year occurred in September, when work started on the Winthrop Club condo development at 1567 Maple Ave.

In 2005 he high point in construction permit activity came in March with the start of work on the Sherman Plaza complex.

Community Development Director James Wolinski said he expects to see additional strong months soon when work begins on the Mather Lifeways building at Hinman Avenue and Davis Street and on the Main Street Station condo development at Main Street and Chicago Avenue.

Only demolition permits have been issued for those projects so far, Wolinski said.

New multi-family construction projects represent 35 percent of the construction work begun this year in Evanston. With the NU lab new school projects jumped to 24 percent of the total, moving ahead of rehab work on residential properties at 16 percent and miscellaneous projects at 15 percent.

The city typically gets nearly five percent of its general fund revenue from building permit fees. At the end of November, fees collected for the fiscal year that began in March totaled $5.1 million, more than a million over the amount projected for the full year.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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