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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Neighbors eagerly await Orrington revitalization

Medill freshman Christopher Gentilviso noticed something odd about the 1600 block of Orrington Avenue after only a week at Northwestern.

“It’s sorta empty,” he said.

That may be about to change: Evanston City Council approved a project to revamp the Orrington Plaza, 1603 Orrington Ave., at a June 27 meeting. Some stores have shown interest in the area.

Lee Golub of CFRI/Golub Evanston LLC, the developer redoing the plaza, said he cannot confirm the involvement of any specific stores. He said he hopes to draw in soft-goods shops, such as clothing retailers, and restaurants.

In interviews near The Arch, students like Gentilviso said they hope for an alternative grocery store to Whole Foods, 1640 Chicago Ave., and another coffee shop near campus. Chain stores Trader Joe’s and Staples have both discussed moving into the space, according to a report to the Evanston Planning and Development Committee.

Golub said not all of the plaza space will go to retail. He added that unless a business is interested in purchasing both floors of the former Borders Books & Music store, the second floor of the area will become office space. The ground floor would still provide about 30,000 square feet for retail operations, adding to the space for shops next door.

A smaller shopping plaza will make the area more inviting and accessible for customers, Golub said. The developer also intends to move the entrance to the BankOne building’s rotunda from Davis Street to Orrington Avenue, drawing traffic onto Orrington. Golub said construction should begin around the end of the year and then take roughly a year to complete.

“There have been no glitches,” he said. “It’s the normal process, nothing’s behind.”

Ever since Borders moved to 1700 Maple Ave. in 2003 and Cingular Wireless left Orrington in January, activity on the east side of the road has become scarce.

“It’s going to enliven that area,” said Jonathan Perman, the executive director of the Evanston Chamber of Commerce. “It will create more retail opportunities and pedestrian activity.”

More people wandering along Orrington to see the new attractions also will help bring traffic by the businesses on the west side of the 1600 block, Perman added.

“It’ll help us tremendously,” said Ana Cifuentes, a stylist at the salon Vincent & Company, 1626 Orrington Ave. “This street is dead.”

Cifuentes, her co-worker Sheri Muciaccia and other employees on the west side of the corridor said they hoped Trader Joe’s would move in across the way. But the two women said, right now, just about any action on the east side of Orrington would probably help business.

Rumors flying about what stores will move in have employees in the salon anxious.

“We’ve heard they’re putting a food court in where the courtyard is,” Muciaccia said. “It could be a rumor, a lot of things could. But that courtyard is never used and it needs something.”

Reach Elizabeth Gibson at [email protected]

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Neighbors eagerly await Orrington revitalization