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Planning for Evanston population growth

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Regional planners estimate that Evanston will add nearly 5,000 households between 2010 and 2040 — or more than 12,000 new residents — for a total population growth of just over 16 percent.

And that projection indicates Evanston will grow a little bit slower than the average for the rest of Cook County.

So far that Chicao Metropolitan Agency for Planning projection look somewhat high — with the Census Bureau estimating Evanston's population grew 1.6 percent in the 51 months between April 2010 and July 2014. But that growth came despite the lingering effects of the housing market crash late last decade.

In a land-locked, completely built-up community where almost all recent net gain in housing stock has come from mid-rise and high-rise development, that's led city staff to start looking beyond the traditional boundaries of downtown for possible new development sites.

In line with theories encouraging less-car-dependent, more transit-oriented development, they've been looking at properties along the city's two rail lines running north and northwest from downtown.

824-828 Noyes St. in an image from Google Maps.

As an example of one possible redevelopment site in the area, there's the building at 824-828 Noyes St. adjacent to the Noyes Purple Line station. Built in 1929 as a National Tea Company grocery store, the land underneath the building is owned by Northwestern University, and the building owner's lease on the property with the university runs out in 2024.

City staff had proposed having a prelminary discussion of creating a tax increment financing district running from downtown north along the rail lines that might help generate revenue to fund a performing arts center downtown. But that discussion was pulled from the Economic Development Committee's January agenda by the committee chair, Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward.

At a 9th Ward meeting early this month, Fiske said, "A lot of people are really concerned about what a TIF would mean. It's inviting in development, and that makes people really uncomfortable."

Fiske, who has opposed numerous development projects over the years, has scheduled a discussion about downtown planning — and the possible northerly expansion of downtown development — for her own ward meeting this Tuesday, March 1, at 7 p.m. at the Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Ave.

Most of the property adjacent to the transit lines from Emerson Street north to Noyes is in the 5th Ward.

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