City staff will tell Evanston’s Economic Development Committee tonight that the retail vacancy rate in town has declined recently — to about 9 percent, from 10 percent in the 4th quarter of last year.

The figures, from CoStar, indicate that the vacancy rate in Evanston closely tracks the rate in Chicago’s Loop, but remains about a percentage point higher than the retail vacancy rate for the northern suburbs as a whole.

Evanston’s vacancy rate for office space is at 10 percent, up about a percentage point from the 4th quarter — slightly higher than the rate in other northern suburbs, but lower than the rate in the Loop.

The industrial vacancy rate in Evanston, essentially flat at just over 8 percent, is substantially higher than the 6 percent rate in the north suburbs as a whole.

The city says a baker’s dozen of businesses opened in Evanston during the first quarter of this year. They include:

  • Domino’s Pizza, which took over the former Great Expectations bookstore space at 911 Foster St.
  • Doc Popcorn, which replaced the Isis Jewelry shop at 1613 Sherman Ave.
  • Tsim Sha Tsui Hot Pot, which is in the former Fast Frame shop location at 1627 Chicago Ave.
  • Blaze Pizza, which replaced the former U.S. Cellular phone store at 1737 Sherman Ave.
  • The Amazing Kaleburger, which replaced the Sweet Nick’s Caribbean restaurant at 741 Howard St.
  • Lovely Tu Tu, a gift boutique at 727 Chicago Ave., in the new live-work lofts in the AMLI Evanston development.
  • Honeycomb Insurance in the Century Building at 960 Grove St.
  • Fawn Studio, a hair salon, at 1328 Sherman Ave.
  • Little Beans Cafe, in the long-vacant Osco drugstore space at 430 Asbury Ave.
  • The Barre Code, a fitness studio, in the former 57th Street Bookcase shop at 604 Davis St.
  • Sleepy’s, a mattress shop, in the former Design Within Reach furniture store location at 1710 Sherman Ave.
  • Curt’s Cafe South, in the former Perla Cafe space at 1813 Dempster St.
  • Verizon Wireless, reopened in the same location at 640 Davis St.

If you’re keeping track, that’s a net gain of four places serving food, and one place for grownups, and one place for kids, to work off those extra calories.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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