Wilmette real estate investor plans another multifamily development in Evanston


Colin Boyle/Daily Senior Staffer

The Highlands at King Home, 1555 Oak Ave. Wilmette real estate investor Cameel Halim bought the assisted-living facility and plans to convert it into 70 to 80 apartment units.

Adrian Wan, Reporter

Joining the push for multifamily developments, a Wilmette real estate investor purchased an assisted-living facility in downtown Evanston for $20 million earlier this fall and plans to convert it into apartment units.

The property includes the former assisted-living facility — The Highlands at King Home, 1555 Oak Ave. — and a surface parking lot that the facility’s previous owner shared with the McGaw YMCA.

Wilmette Real Estate & Management owner Cameel Halim, who bought the parcel, said he will create 70 to 80 units in the six-story building. Halim also plans to keep parking available for the community, he said.

“The land is rare and the location of the building is really good,” Halim said. “The block will bring a lot of benefits.”

The parcel is across the street from Halim Time and Glass Museum, which is filled with the Halim family’s private collection of ornate clocks and stained glass windows.

Halim’s company purchased the Oak Avenue property from Presbyterian Homes, a nonprofit and faith-based retirement organization.

Before it officially closed in June due to high capital improvement costs — between $3,000 to $7,000 per month — the assisted-living facility consisted of more than 50 apartments and housed 34 residents, said Bob Werdan, Presbyterian Homes’s vice president of marketing and public relations.

Werdan said the residents were offered the option to transition to Westminster Place, Presbyterian Homes’s northwest Evanston campus.

“King Home no longer meets the demands of the market, nor does it operate as a continuum of care, which strays from our core mission and strategic plan,” Presbyterian Homes president and CEO Todd Swortzel said in a January news release.

Due to the comfortable suburban living environment and quick transit to downtown Chicago, there is a high demand for housing in Evanston, the city’s economic development manager, Paul Zalmezak, said.

Halim’s plan is one of six big multifamily projects — totaling more than 1,100 units — in the works in downtown Evanston, according to Crain’s Chicago Business.

“(Evanston) is a quality place, so people want to live in the community,” Zalmezak said. “In a situation where there is a high demand, the housing prices are higher.”

Zalmezak said after undergoing a series of renovations, the new multifamily property will help stabilize the increasing cost of apartments in Evanston by meeting demand. The former assisted-living building was tax-exempt, Zalmezak said, so the new development will also add to the city’s property tax revenue.

Halim said because the construction process doesn’t require any rezoning, he will not need approval from City Council for the project. He does, however, still need a building permit from the city’s Building and Inspection Services Division.

The project’s development, Halim said, should begin in spring 2018 and finish by the end of the year.

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