Mayor Hagerty, developers break ground at 811 Emerson St. development


Chris Vazquez/Daily Senior Staffer

Mayor Steve Hagerty speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony Thursday for the 811 Emerson St. development. The project underwent more than a year of discussion before it was approved.

Clare Proctor, Reporter

Mayor Steve Hagerty joined the real estate companies CA Ventures and Focus Development for a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday to mark the construction of a new development at 811 Emerson St., which underwent more than a year of discussion before it was approved.

Hagerty said it is important to have more people living in downtown areas all across America, including Evanston — a sentiment he said is shared by Evanston restaurant and business owners.

“I’m a big believer in smart and sensible development,” Hagerty said. “I’m a big believer in transit-oriented design.”

Although City Council approved the building in June, not everyone has been supportive of the new development, which has also been referred to as 831 Emerson St. Residents expressed concerns about the building’s height and lack of contribution to affordable housing at a City Council meeting last April.

Susan Wolin, a resident at the Sherman Garden Apartments across the street from the new development, said at the April meeting that she was concerned the project was a “student-focused development” and would increase noise around the area.

“I would argue that, in effect, the proposed development will end up functioning as a high-end dormitory, attracting affluent students,” she said. “The proposed project is targeting an affluent rental market that is already well-served in Evanston.”

Tim Anderson, owner and CEO of Focus Development, told The Daily at the Thursday ceremony the building’s units will be marketed toward students. He added that the development occupying the lot prior to the new apartment building was largely vacant and underutilized.

“It was an asset for the community that was not being utilized the way it had potential to be,” Anderson said.

Bob Flannery, president of CA Residential — the division of CA Ventures working on this project — told The Daily that the new apartment plan includes “Class-A” amenities to appeal to Evanston as it becomes “more sophisticated.” Amenities include a fitness center, outdoor pool, patio and yoga room, he said.

The 811 Emerson St. apartment is CA Ventures’ first project in Evanston, Flannery said. As CA Ventures’ headquarters are in Chicago, Flannery said constructing a project in Evanston is an “important achievement” and a “no-brainer.”

“When we do a deal, we always look for great location, great partnership and great amenities in the community,” Flannery said. “We just think there’s a great alignment here on everything, and we just love to build projects that meet the needs of the community.”

Developers anticipate construction to finish in summer of 2019, Flannery said. In addition to CA Ventures and Focus Development, the project collaboration includes bKL Architecture and interior designer blocHaus.

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