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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Plans Scrapped For Long-Vacant Shops

By Megan CrepeauThe Daily Northwestern

Developers have abandoned plans for the empty buildings on the east side of Orrington Avenue as they consider new options for the property.

“The project is still in play,” said architect Stephen Yas, whose firm is designing the properties downtown at 1603 and 1629 Orrington Ave.

Renovation plans were announced in 2005, and the buildings were supposed to have been finished by the end of last year. The properties have since changed hands and the project is being retooled.

The area attracted attention when the City Council first approved development in 2005.

After Borders Books and Music moved out of the area in 2003 and Cingular Wireless left in 2005, the east end of the street had become less popular.

The new project was supposed to revitalize interest in the area by bringing more pedestrian traffic to downtown.

CFRI/Golub Evanston, the properties’ original developers, planned to use the buildings for office space, retailers and restaurants. The project was supposed to have been completed by the end of 2006.

Progress has since stalled.

CFRI sold the properties last year to Lowe Enterprises, a company from Denver, said Lee Golub, Executive Vice President of real estate firm Golub & Company. The Orrington properties are now in hands of Lowe and Golub, which are considering new options for the buildings.

Both Yas and Golub refused to comment about the businesses that might inhabit the spaces in the future because nothing has been made official. Yas said only that “there’s a lot of interest” in the buildings from the local business community.

“It’s moving forward,” Yas said. “We have a vision for a better downtown Evanston.”

Some Evanston residents, originally excited about the prospect of revitalization on Orrington, have become used to the lack of development on the block.

Matt Steponik, manager of Cafe Ambrosia, 1620 Orrington Ave., said his business has done its best to carve out a niche without depending on the increased traffic that they had originally hoped a development might bring.

“We’ve done very well ourselves,” he said. “At this point we’re going to view any development as a bonus.”

Northwestern students said they consider the empty side of the street a fact of life. Most of the student population hadn’t even arrived in Evanston for the first time when Borders closed.

Weinberg junior Amanda Delaney said she doesn’t miss retail on Orrington.

“I don’t think that it all needs to be commercial,” she said. “I think students have enough options.”

Reach Megan Crepeau at [email protected].

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Plans Scrapped For Long-Vacant Shops