'Change isn't easy' says mayor at groundbreaking

Steve Hagerty.

Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty recalled memories of good times in the buildings that are gone, but said he looks forward to the vitality the new structure will bring to Evanston at groundbreaking ceremonies this morning for the 15-story Albion Residential development on Sherman Avenue.

Pointing to where Tommy Nevin's Pub stood until recently, Hagerty said on their first visit to Evanston 19 years ago he and his wife had stopped there and encountered a stranger who talked to them at the bar for half an hour about how wonderful Evanston is. Later their daughter developed her interest in traditional Irish dance performing there.

And the other restaurant on the building site, Prairie Moon, was the site of election-night parties -- including for his victory in the mayor's race just last year.

"It's tough. Change isn't easy, and we want to be really thoughtful about what change we allow to happen in Evanston," Hagerty said.

But he added that he's proud of the partnership between Albion and the city, and said the new development "is going to generate incredible memories for the more than 400 people who will live there."


The mayor gets a commemorative brick from the site from Albion Vice President Andrew Yule.

"Shopowners will tell you, 'We need more density, more people,'" Hagerty said, and the Albion project will help accomplish that.

"I want to see this city progress and become one of the leading urban ring cities in America," he added. "I'm looking forward to what this means to the vitality of Evanston."


Jason Koehn.

Albion President Jason Koehn, recalling the long process that led to approval of the project, said, "Persistence and patience allowed us to navigate, negotiate and compromise to get where we are today. Nobody got exactly what they wanted -- that's what compromise is all about."


The mayor joins Albion officials and city community development staffers for the ceremonial groundbreaking.

Koehn said the 268 rental apartments in the development would bring more customers for all the restaurants and shops downtown when it opens early in 2020, adding, "We look forward to being a long-term partner with the community of Evanston for years to come."

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Comments

Density

It is both sad and amusing that the Mayor believes the "400" will revitalize the beleaguered downtown Evanston businesses. It is perhaps true that the 400 souls may do some shopping and dining in that zone. It is also just as likely that those who drove there previously will find traffic and parking increasingly unfriendly and simply avoid this region. It has been a revolving door of businesses in this area for some time. Prairie Moon is now reopening in the former "Dave's" location. Evanston Community Bank is where a Corner Bakery was. Even Target simply replaced a store. The premise is that these poor souls will be trapped here somehow (sans cars). Good luck with that premise because the lane reconfiguration of Sherman and Orrington (by the non working fountain square) certainly didn't encourage traffic flow.

love that density

This idea you espouse that downtown Evanston is beleaguered is nonsense.  Because of density development over the last 15 years this downtown has once again thrived.  There are more restaurants, stores & theaters than 20 years ago, a great many of them independent owned and operated, simply because of development.  

Pre development this downtown was dying, around 20% vacancy 20 years ago.  I have no idea what some people are talking about when they say downtown has lost it's "character".  I guess they mean crumbling parking garages, vacant dilapadated stores and empty streets is the character they're wisful for.  The decline started in the 1950's when Old Orchard was built and escalated up until the anti develoment people and their outlandish claims, none of which materialized, were stood up to and revitalization efforts began that this downtown began to succeed again. 

You're right, these new residents won't be "trapped" here, but fact of the matter is they will have consciously chosen to live downtown, primarily because of what has been happening downtown, spending their time and money here, contributing to the support of all business, independent or chain.  Expanding and continueing the success we have undergone.  

BTW, I love the lane reconfiguration of Sherman, took a minute to get used to but it is a vast improvement.  I guess the mayor is correct, change is hard for some people to embrace.