Wrecking balls finally hit garage after long delay

Paul Thissen

Signs on the 1700 block of Sherman Avenue have proclaimed that Osco Drug is “Coming Soon” for years, but they finally may be accurate. Demolition of the Sherman Garage, the first step in a $100 million residential and commercial development, began in August after years of delays.

Construction of the Sherman Plaza is scheduled to begin in October or November said James Klutznick, one of the partners in the development.

The development is set to include a 25-story tower of condominiums, 150,000 square feet of business space and a parking garage, according to Klutznick. It will occupy the block bounded by Benson and Sherman avenues and Davis and Church streets.

“We’re very pleased,” said Klutznick. “We’re going to start development after the garage comes down.”

The garage was closed in May on short notice because Evanston’s engineers deemed it unsafe for occupancy.

Once the garage is demolished, construction will begin at the south end of the site. According to the current schedule, Osco Drug, 1630 Sherman Ave., will have to move a half block north to its new location in January.

Osco Drug will occupy a smaller space at 1710 Sherman Ave., next to the Gap. First Bank & Trust of Evanston, 820 Church St., will be the only business to remain on the block.

“I’m happy to see it happening,” said Dick Peach, a board member of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce. “It’s been six years in the coming.”

The City Council originally approved the project in the spring of 2001, when the demolition of the garage was slated for early 2002 and the plaza was projected to open in 2003.

All the other retail businesses on the block, including Olive Mountain and Thai Sookdee, were forced to relocate about two years ago in preparation for demolition.

The development has been plagued by delays stemming from problems with its financial backing. The initial plan for the development included a Sears Robuck Inc. and a retirement community instead of condominiums.

Last year, the Lakeshore Athletic Club and Spa, which was providing some money for the project, backed out. Now, however, all financial commitments have been signed, Klutznick said, and the legal documentation sealing the loans should be finished in about a month.

The parking garage, projected to open in 2005 or early 2006, will be the first part of the development completed. According to Klutznick, retail stores will follow in mid-2006 and the condos will be occupied by late 2006 or early 2007.

The retail stores that will occupy the building have not been announced yet, Klutznick said.

Reach Paul Thissen at [email protected]