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Retail plus 34 apartments planned in Varsity rehab project

A real estate brokerage has announced plans for a project that would add 34 apartments to the upper level of the former Varsity Theater building in downtown Evanston.

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The Varsity Theater building in a 2016 image from Google Maps.

A Chicago commercial real estate brokerage announced plans today for a project that would add 34 apartments to the upper level of the former Varsity Theater building at 1710 Sherman Ave. in downtown Evanston.

The project, for which JLL is the leasing agent, also includes redevelopment of over 10,000 square feet of ground floor space to house up to six retail storefronts as well as redevelopment of Bookman’s Alley just north of the Varsity building.

City Council approved an easement to facilitate the alley upgrade in May, but plans for the apartment component of the development hadn’t been previously reported.

A rendering of a potential redevelopment of Bookman’s Alley.

“This project is highly welcomed by the community and fits right in with what Evanston is all about,” Steve Schwartz, JLL senior vice president said in a statement. “With the revitalization of this area combined with new retail space available for lease, we can create a unique gathering spot and new opportunities for local businesses to reinvest in the area.”

Bookman’s Alley is known for the longtime bookstore that formerly operated in garages behind the Huntley Building adjacent to Varsity Theater. The garage area now is home to The Alley Gallery and the Bookends & Beginnings bookstore.

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