Subway slated from Sherman Avenue continues fast food glut

Evanston’s fast-food and carry-out restaurants might be clogging more than arteries, some aldermen fear.

A Subway sandwich shop could soon fill a portion of the old Student Book Exchange storefront, 1737 Sherman Ave., which would increase the number of take-out options — and garbge — on the block.

“There seems to be an accumulation of special uses going on there,” Ald. Arthur Newman (1st) said at a Feb. 24 Planning and Development Committee meeting. “It’s like a food court.”

Newman said he has heard from constituents about an increase in litter, garbage and even rats along the street. He also said he is concerned the area might not be able to support so many carry-out joints.

“It’s one thing to have sit-down restaurants,” Newman said. “We’re not equipped for as much (fast) food as we’re getting.”

Zeltee Edwards, superintendent of the city’s streets and sanitation department, said he hasn’t noticed an unreasonable increase in garbage overflowing. The city’s new downtown developments have contributed to the growth in trash collection, he said.

“The density of the area is growing,” Edwards said.

One of the city’s crews picks up trash by hand every morning, and often multiple times throughout the day, especially in the summer, Edwards said.

Richard Dux, who is looking to open the Subway franchise next to Taco Bell Express, 1743 Sherman Ave., is attempting to address the city’s garbage concerns.

Dux said he and the property owner have relocated garbage cans so that they are not visible from Sherman. He also recommended to the city ways other nearby business owners could address their garbage problems.

Since the franchise would be a hands-on, owner-operated business, Dux said he would also pick up trash near the store, regardless of where it came from.

“We’re a society that operates under a capitalistic free market system,” Dux said. “In our system, consumers will make decisions on which businesses they want to support based on their preferences.”

In an attempt to keep Evanston clean, the city currently contracts with EVMark, an Evanston business improvement district. EVMark, which provides environmental landscape maintenance and clean-up services, is funded by downtown property owners. Executive director Bridget Lane said she has not heard the downtown has a rat problem.

However, her employees have noticed an increase in trash, which she agrees is the result of more people visiting the area.

“It’s a happy problem to have because more people are shopping in downtown Evanston,” Lane said. “If we correctly enforce permitting, this shouldn’t create a trash problem.”

Despite the trash talk, it appears retailers are still interested in the area.

Dux said he will finalize and sign a lease today with Family Properties, which owns the former SBX space.

Gary Poppins, a popcorn store, is slated to open next door at the end of spring or in early summer. A fine furniture store has also inquired about the location, according to Marc Magill, accounts manager for Family Properties.

But some worry the addition of new businesses could adversely affect current stores.

The city already has four other Subway stores.

Franchiser Kishan Patel, who owns the Subway at 1551 Sherman Ave., said he is concerned another nearby Subway would hurt his profits.

“I like competition,” Patel said. “I’m just worried that Subway goes crazy.”

It is unlikely another Subway would benefit downtown Evanston, he said.

But Magill said anyone who feels another restaurant is necessary in the area should be entitled to open one.

“In the end (the city) is going to have to analyze and see if there is too much,” he said