Evanston sees 27 new businesses open in third quarter

Marissa Page, Assistant City Editor

Evanston released its 2015 third-quarter economic report Wednesday, revealing the number of new businesses in the city doubled from the number from the same three-month period last year.

From July 1 to Sept. 30, 27 new Evanston businesses opened compared with 12 the year before.

Among the new ventures were two grocery stores, retail locations and several restaurants, which have accounted for much of the business growth during this period, city manager Wally Bobkiewicz said.

“Service businesses continue to grow really well, with restaurants probably first among them,” Bobkiewicz said. “We’re seeing a lot of changes in what’s known as the fast casual category. … We’re really happy that everyone in those markets, which are very hot nationally, seem to want to come to Evanston.”

Two of the largest openings in the third quarter were those of Valli Produce and Evanston’s third Whole Foods. The stores debuted on back-to-back weekends in July and filled storefronts formerly occupied by Dominick’s locations before the chain left the Chicagoland area at the end of 2013.

“The biggest change in the quarter were the grocery stores,” Bobkiewicz said. “We now have three Whole Foods serving different parts of our community, and with Valli Produce we were fortunate enough to get a really strong independent grocer.”

Office and retail vacancy rates in the city have dipped over the past year in the city, with a significant drop in retail vacancies during the third quarter of 2015.

“We don’t see a whole lot of empty retail vacancies around Evanston, so that’s very positive,” Bobkiewicz said. “From an economic development perspective, we’re really pleased that we’re doing as well as we are.”

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