Bahai News - Construction Set to Begin on 28-Story Condominium Tower in Evanston, Ill. November 04, 2001 13:24

Construction Set to Begin on 28-Story Condominium Tower in Evanston, Ill.

By John Handley, Chicago Tribune

Nov. 4--CHICAGO--Evanstonians are about to reach new heights.

Construction is scheduled to begin soon on a 28-story condominium tower that will be the highest residential building in Evanston.

Called Optima Views, it will be built on land that is now a parking lot on the west side of Maple Street just north of Church Street in the northern suburb.

The 205 units are base-priced from $172,750 to a penthouse at $1.4 million and range from 687 to 3,711 square feet with one to three bedrooms.

Construction of the project by Optima Inc. is scheduled to begin in December with first occupancies in a year and completion by December 2003, according to Optima President David Hovey. Designed by Hovey and Tod Demarais, the concrete and glass building will be in a contemporary style that contrasts with much of the north suburb's traditional look.

"We're trying to take a step into the future, rather than recreate something from the past," Hovey said.

The 265-foot structure will be 28 feet higher than the next tallest residential tower in town, but 12 feet shorter than the Bank One commercial building.

From the sixth floor and higher, residents will be able to see Lake Michigan and the downtown Chicago skyline to the south and the Northwestern University campus, the Bahai Temple and the lake to the north, Hovey added.

For example, a two-bedroom unit on the seventh floor with northeast and northwest views is priced at $298,204, while a three-bedroom plan on the same floor with views east, southeast and northeast is $463,569.

"Some owners of large, gracious single-family homes have expressed mixed feelings [about the modern high-rise]," said Carolyn Smith, assistant director of the Evanston planning department's building division. "They don't want change. But others are excited by the livelier, more sophisticated downtown Evanston that is developing." She added that there is space for more residential projects in or on the edges of downtown.

The entrance to Optima Views on Maple will be decorated with a reflecting pool and fountain. Over the 230-car garage, on the fourth level, will be a landscaped courtyard with a glass-enclosed swimming pool, sun deck, party room and fitness center.

Indoor parking is included in the price of units. Monthly assessments will range from $107 to $1,384.

Condominiums will have open floor plans, floor-to-ceiling windows, terraces and master bedrooms with walk-in closets and private baths.

Originally zoned for 262 apartments, the site was better suited for only 205 units because of the shape of the building, Hovey said.

Thirty percent of the units already have been sold. "About half of the buyers work in downtown Chicago," said Hovey. The building will be a half-block from the Metra commuter station. A short walk to the southeast is the Davis Street station on the CTA's elevated Purple Line.

"When the new condo is built, it will bring more life to the area," said Ronald Kysiak, executive director of Evanston Inventure, a private economic development firm. Optima Views is located in the 22-acre, triangular-shaped Northwestern University/Evanston Research Park.

Kysiak, who also is CEO of the research park, said that since it opened in 1989 it has attracted more than $200 million in development. Two acres remain for development by the university.

Directly across the street to the east is the new Century Theater and a Wolfgang Puck restaurant. The Metra tracks and a Helmut Jahn-designed office building are to the west.

North of the future condo is a new 1,260-car parking garage and a new 180-room Hilton Garden hotel.

The sales center for Optima Views is at 1741 Maple St., across the street from the future condo.


©Copyright 2001, Chicago Tribune

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