Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Everything Evanston: Behind the boba in downtown Evanston

Evanston a college town? Church Street Plaza a small step

Movie theaters. Brew-pubs. Student discounts.

Evanston is finally realizing it’s a college town.

As a $90 million entertainment, retail and residential complex is being built within walking distance of campus, other area businesses are considering offering more student discounts.

Though one may not realize it amid heightening town-gown tensions, it’s a fine time to be a college student in Evanston.

If only the city’s middle-aged businessmen would see it our way and let it all play out.

Church Street Plaza is still under construction, and Evanston business leaders are already doubting its potential for success.

The plaza, which will be located at the southern end of the Northwestern/Evanston Research Park, will include a Century Theater movie complex, a microbrewery with take-out liquor and an Urban Outfitters. How could an 18-screen movie theater, an alcohol vendor and a trendy clothing store fail in a city full of students starved for entertainment that doesn’t require public transportation?

Troy Thiel, director of the Evanston Small Business Association, has said Old Orchard Shopping Center may be too much competition for the plaza.

I’d like to point out one small — but extremely important — detail of which I know Thiel is already aware: Old Orchard is in Skokie.

To get to Skokie, students have three options. They can take a cab, watching the meter to make sure the driver doesn’t rip them off, and still end up paying about $20 round-trip fare. They can bribe a friend with a car to drive them. Or they can take a 30-minute bus ride and see a show that will end just in time to catch the last bus back to Evanston.

None of these options lends itself to spontaneous trips to a Friday-night movie. Most students just wait for the video release or a trip home.

Now they are waiting for something else: the opening of Church Street Plaza. It’s not obvious, but there is a considerable level of enthusiasm among students about having a movie theater within walking distance.

The other businesses scheduled to open in the plaza are also cause for excitement. Our infamously dry home-away-from-home will gain another bar, and our shopping options will expand beyond the Gap.

Throw in a few student discounts and we’re all yours, Evanston.

But it seems like Evanston business leaders may have already figured this out. Thiel and other Evanston residents have started working with Northwestern officials to promote the WildCARD Advantage discount program. The program would allow businesses such as Barnes & Noble, Presence and Omni Spa to advertise the discounts they already offer, while giving other businesses — like Flat Top Grill — the opportunity to offer new deals.

Evanston stores with any student clientele and any business sense should join this program. There’s no better way to win loyal customers than to save them money, especially when those customers are college students who have very little disposable income. If we find a good place for a cheap meal, haircut or CD, we’ll flock.

Imagine it. Within a year, we may be able to walk a few blocks to buy a new outfit with a student discount before going out to a discounted dinner and movie. We won’t even need to leave the city to have a good time.

It’ll almost be as if Evanston knows we’re here.

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Evanston a college town? Church Street Plaza a small step