Construction begins next week on a $148 million apartment development in downtown Evanston, which is being billed as the first high-rise going up downtown since the economic downturn.
Co-developers Fifield Companies and Carroll Properties will break ground Tuesday, Oct. 8, on two towers containing a total of 356 luxury units at 1881 Oak Ave. and 1890 Maple Ave., according to a press release. Called E2, the two buildings will be connected by a four-story structure containing three floors of parking and a fourth-floor deck. The tower at 1881 Oak will be 16 stories tall, while the 1890 Maple tower will be 14 stories.
Although construction is finally going forward, it hasn’t been an easy road, as the two sites have sat empty for nearly a decade. Combining both sites, 1890 Maple and 1881 Oak make up the largest undeveloped land parcel downtown, at 69,348 square feet, according to city documents.
Robert King of Carroll Properties bought the vacant lot at 1881 Oak in 2005, and in 2006, the city council approved his proposal to build a multi-family residential building with 165 units. At that time, the site had been empty for more than a decade.
City council members approved a one-year extension on the project’s construction in June 2007. That September, aldermen also approved Caroll Properties’s proposal for construction of a separate, 152-unit mixed-use building next door, in place of a four-story office building at 1890 Maple. There was one important condition, however: one of the first-floor tenants had to be a grocery store. Carroll Properties began negotiating with Trader Joe’s, but when those discussions fell through in 2009, the company requested $1.5 million in tax-increment financing from the city.
At the time, city staff advised council members not to grant the request, because there was no evidence of financial commitments, commercial leases or pre-leased residential units for 1890 Maple Ave. Three more years went by with no activity on either site, and the council granted more extensions.
Finally, in late 2012, King partnered with the Chicago-based real estate developer Fifield Companies to submit a new plan for both properties. Council members approved that plan—which connected the two buildings with the four-story parking garage—in early 2013.
The new plans also call for 4,000 square feet of ground floor retail and 12 townhomes along Emerson Street, according to a release from the developers. There will be a two-story lobby at the west entrance to the properties, while garage entry and loading will take place on Oak Street. The buildings will share an “amenity plaza” with a lounge, theater, spa, half-basketball court and deck.
Apartments will have stainless steel appliances, 42-inch cabinets, hardwood floors, individual HVAC systems and balconies, according to city documents, while the building will have a 24-hour doorman, fitness center with year-round pool and garden roof decks. The developers estimated that rents would range from $1,250 to $3,700.Fifield’s most recent Chicago development, called K2, was completed last March in the West Loop. The 496-unit luxury apartment building is 34 stories tall. The developer has built several other residential projects in the West Loop, as well as residential buildings in California, Florida and Hawaii, among other pla