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City Working to Help Develop Chicago & Main Property, Attract New Business to Main St. Area

From the City of Evanston.

From the City of Evanston:

The City of Evanston's Economic Development Division is actively working to leverage the access that the El and Metra bring to Evanston by working to create new work and play opportunities adjacent to these transit stations. One of the keys to the city’s future economic development successes, growing office developments beyond downtown to other parts of Evanston is a priority. In keeping with this goal, the city is working with OMS Evanston LLC to develop the lot located at the southeast corner of Chicago Ave. and Main St. into a 90,000 mixed-use retail and office development. The city will award two $20,000 grants to help attract new businesses to the property.

“Since OMS acquired the property, city staff has worked with them to conceptualize future redevelopment at this site. Initially OMS sought redevelopment of the property as a mixed-use retail and residential building,” explained the city’s Community and Economic Development Director Steve Griffin. “After much review and discussion with local merchants, elected officials and other stakeholders, it is the collective vision and desire that the property can be redeveloped as a mixed-use retail and office development. The close proximity to both the CTA and the Metra Main Street stations make the property highly transit accessible.”

The property had been a two-story retail/office development and was demolished in 2007 to make way for a mixed-use commercial and residential building. The planned development, Mainstreet Station Condominiums, would have included ground level retail and 71 residential units. However, after the owner failed to make timely payments on the loan, Cole Taylor Bank filed a foreclosure lawsuit in late 2008. After the foreclosure, city staff closely monitored the various parties and their interest in the acquisition and redevelopment of the property when, in 2010, the property was sold to OMS Evanston LLC (OMS) for approximately $1.65 million.

Many Main Street merchants have noted that after the removal of the previous vintage office building and the bank/office property at the northwest corner of Main Street and Chicago Avenue, day-time foot traffic into stores has decreased significantly.

“Since acquisition, OMS has engaged in predevelopment activities to work diligently to attract office tenants that range from health care providers to technology-based companies to the property,” added Director Griffin. “Additionally, OMS has recently engaged Colliers International to develop a marketing plan and presentation that includes preliminary schematic renderings of the proposed property.”

“The initial renderings are draft concepts only of the development. Prior to entering the City’s Planned Development process, OMS, City staff and myself will work together to hold public meetings to seek feedback on the design, materials and other building features prior to the first Plan Commission meeting,” said Third Ward Alderman Melissa Wynne. “This is an excellent opportunity for Evanston and specifically the Main St. business corridor to attract new businesses and jobs to our community.”

The first neighborhood meeting regarding this development will be held mid-June. The City of Evanston will provide notice of the event to area residents, businesses and other stakeholders.

“We seek to work with the City and the neighborhood to create a high-quality building that enhances this key intersection," said John O’Donnell, Managing Member of OMS LLC. "We appreciate the City’s willingness to be a partner in this endeavor. We look forward to the next steps in this development process.”

Since the city seeks a partnership with OMS to deliver a development that meets the redevelopment goals of the city, the surrounding merchant district and the greater Evanston community, the opportunity to participate financially will ensure that the city continues to have a role in this redevelopment effort. OMS estimates that predevelopment efforts will cost about $400,000. The City’s financial contribution of two grants of $20,000 each would fund marketing and attraction efforts to bring tenants to the property. The first grant of $20,000 will be used to pay for portions of the marketing materials. The Economic Development Committee recommended approval to City Council for the first $20,000 grant at its May 25 meeting.

The dispersal of the second grant of $20,000 would be contingent on a presentation on the progress of the project at the regularly scheduled September Economic Development Committee meeting.

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