Construction crews began work on a four-story apartment and retail complex at the former site of the Evanston Theatre on Central Street this week.
Ald. Jane Grover (7th Ward) and other Evanston officials were on hand for a photo-op during a groundbreaking at the site, 1700-1722 Central St., this past Thursday.
The property at the intersection of Central Street and Eastwood Avenue has been vacant since 2007, when the Evanston Theatre was demolished. First built in 1937, the Art Deco style building operated as a theatre for most of its history. The property's final owner, Loews Cineplex, purchased the building in the 1980s and renamed it Evanston 5. When the company went through bankruptcy proceedings in 2001, the theatre was one of several that closed in Chicago.
“It is a good day and it is an extrodinary good feeling to see building going on in this property that has been vacant for far too long," said Ald. Jane Grover. "This is a building that will bring to Evanston new restaurants, new housing, new retail and new neighbors."
Developers originally proposed a five-story mixed-use apartment and retail building on the site in 2007. The plan went through several iterations as neighbors brought forth concerns about the building's size and density, parking in the area and the width of the alley, according to the Central Street Neighbor's Association.
When the economy tanked in 2008, developers sought and were granted an extension on the construction schedule.
Once the project is complete, the building will house 80 apartments and 10,650 square feet of retail space at street-level, according to M&R Development. Called "Central Station," the building is expected to be complete in May of 2013.
Co-developer Bob Horne of Dodge Capital, said the building was designed to provide its residents with easy access to transportation. The Central Street Metra station is one block away, while the CTA Purple line is accessible less than a mile to the west. Tenants will also have access to 24 indoor parking spaces and 56 outdoor spaces.