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What’s worth most downtown?

If you believe, as many local planners do, in the “wedding cake” theory of zoning — that the tallest, and therefore most valuable, buildings should be at the center of town, you’d encounter some surprises looking at downtown Evanston property values block by block.

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Square Feet 101,000
Value/SF $108
Assessor\’s link Block 119
+ 42.0462970137213,-87.6827430725098:Assessed Value $13,362,990
Square Feet 143,000
Value/SF $93
Assessor\’s link Block 311
+ 42.0472530795896,-87.6802539825439:Assessed Value $19,090,263
Square Feet 236,000
Value/SF $81
Assessor\’s link Block 306
+ 42.0476673703308,-87.6824426651001:Assessed Value $9,764,985
Square Feet 160,000
Value/SF $61
Assessor\’s link Block 304
|markers=yellow:: 42.0453090638753,-87.679009437561:Assessed Value $8,485,308
Square Feet 152,000
Value/SF $56
Assessor\’s link Block 408
+ 42.0493563738535,-87.6840734481812:Assessed Value $5,354,200
Square Feet 96,000
Value/SF $56
Assessor\’s link Block 125
+ 42.0492289034563,-87.680983543396:Assessed Value $7,538,582
Square Feet 146,000
Value/SF $52
Assessor\’s link Block 127
+ 42.0477948438615,-87.6812839508057:Assessed Value $2,540,936
Square Feet 50,000
Value/SF $51
Assessor\’s link Block 305
+ 42.0498981201882,-87.6854467391968:Assessed Value $12,056,952
Square Feet 249,000
Value/SF $48
Assessor\’s link Block 117
+ 42.0477629755029,-87.6841163635254:Assessed Value $8,074,275
Square Feet 181,000
Value/SF $45
Assessor\’s link Block 303
+ 42.0476036334696,-87.6857900619507:Assessed Value $6,780,347
Square Feet 176,000
Value/SF $39
Assessor\’s link Block 302
+ 42.0458189753917,-87.6807689666748:Assessed Value $5,994,750
Square Feet 174,000
Value/SF $34
Assessor\’s link Block 312
|markers=green:: 42.0485278116991,-87.6778936386108:Assessed Value $2,843,411
Square Feet 102,000
Value/SF $28
Assessor\’s link Block 400
+ 42.0488146228986,-87.6862621307373:Assessed Value $2,243,243
Square Feet 82,000
Value/SF $27
Assessor\’s link Block 123
+ 42.0516826636721,-87.6839876174927:Assessed Value $1,240,000
Square Feet 47,000
Value/SF $26
Assessor\’s link Block 113
+ 42.0491970358169,-87.6825284957886:Assessed Value $4,044,070
Square Feet 162,000
Value/SF $25
Assessor\’s link Block 126
+ 42.0445760589005,-87.6810693740845:Assessed Value $2,418,342
Square Feet 118,000
Value/SF $21
Assessor\’s link Block 318
+ 42.0462970137213,-87.6877212524414:Assessed Value $3,764,840
Square Feet 183,000
Value/SF $21
Assessor\’s link Block 308
+ 42.0515870643993,-87.6855754852295:Assessed Value $2,644,290
Square Feet 139,000
Value/SF $19
Assessor\’s link Block 112
+ 42.0510134657409,-87.682056427002:Assessed Value $226,865
Square Feet 13,000
Value/SF $18
Assessor\’s link Block 119
+ 42.0447672784049,-87.6842021942139:Assessed Value $2,660,196
Square Feet 150,000
Value/SF $18
Assessor\’s link Block 316
|markers=blue:: 42.046647572877,-87.6783657073975:Assessed Value $3,190,287
Square Feet 206,000
Value/SF $15
Assessor\’s link Block 403
+ 42.0447672784049,-87.6827001571655:Assessed Value $1,418,137
Square Feet 93,000
Value/SF $15
Assessor\’s link Block 317
+ 42.0516189308396,-87.6869058609009:Assessed Value $875,578
Square Feet 59,000
Value/SF $15
Assessor\’s link Block 112
+ 42.0462970137213,-87.6858329772949:Assessed Value $2,811,204
Square Feet 190,000
Value/SF $15
Assessor\’s link Block 309
+ 42.0447672784049,-87.6858329772949:Assessed Value $2,148,783
Square Feet 188,000
Value/SF $11
Assessor\’s link Block 315
+ 42.0506310637576,-87.6839447021484:Assessed Value $798,123
Square Feet 83,000
Value/SF $10
Assessor\’s link Block 118
+ 42.0477311071282,-87.6878070831299:Assessed Value $1,909,508
Square Feet 200,000
Value/SF $10
Assessor\’s link Block 301
+ 42.0493563738535,-87.6876354217529:Assessed Value $1,854,982
Square Feet 208,000
Value/SF $9
Assessor\’s link Block 122
+ 42.0461057988211,-87.6843738555908:Assessed Value $849,811
Square Feet 98,000
Value/SF $9
Assessor\’s link Block 310
+ 42.0488146228986,-87.6793956756592:Assessed Value $1,494,199
Square Feet 268,000
Value/SF $6
Assessor\’s link Block 208
+ 42.0505035959182,-87.6876783370972:Assessed Value $106,231
Square Feet 64,000
Value/SF $2
Assessor\’s link Block 116
+ 42.0444167088739,-87.6795244216919:Assessed Value $0
Square Feet 76,000
Value/SF $0
Assessor\’s link Block 412
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Click on a marker to display a popup with value data for a block. Click on the Assessor’s link on the popup to see detailed data for the block.
Values per square foot
= >$60 = $31 to $60 = $16 to $30 = $0 to $15.
The red line shows the proposed boundary of the downtown area drafted by the Downtown Plan Subcommittee of the Plan Commission.

As it turns out, Evanston’s most valuable block on a square-footage basis is toward the north edge of downtown where the Optima Horizons condo building at 800 Elgin Road and the 1800 Sherman Ave. building combine to create an assessed valuation of nearly $11 million or $108 per square foot.

The runner up is toward the south side of downtown. The block bounded by Davis Street, Sherman Avenue, Grove Street and the Metra tracks has both the Rotary International office tower and the Optima Towers condo complex. This is a somewhat bigger block, with other buildings in the mix, and it totals over $13 million in assessed value, or $93 per square foot.

The block with the Chase Bank Building, the Park Evanston and the Carlson Building comes in third. The value per foot of ground there is $81.

Even in its unfinished state, the Sherman Plaza block comes in fourth, at $61 per square foot. It likely will move up in the ranking once the owners of its condo units move in.

Some blocks close to the center of downtown don’t do so well.

The Fountain Square block, at the historic center of town, ranks eighth, at $51 per square foot, pulled down by the low-rise buildings at its north end and high vacancy levels in the Fountain Square Building itself.

And the block with Optima Views and the Hilton Garden Inn hotel ranks ninth, at $48 per square foot, hurt by the low value of the surface parking lot used for the Farmers Market.

Some blocks have low values because of tax-exempt property. The block with the Evanston Public Library has numerous tax-exempt parcels and shows a value of $6 per square foot.

Property values, of course, are only one of many ways to measure a block, or a community’s, success.

Technical notes
Property valuations were obtained from the Cook County Assessor’s web site. The square footage for each block was calculated using the mapping functionality on the City of Evanston web site. In calculating square footages for each block, streets and railroad rights-of-way were excluded, but alleys internal to a block and tax exempt land parcels were included.

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