Local Evanston Family Supports New Development

Dear Mayor Hagerty and Members of the Evanston City Council:
We are residents of the 8th Ward, where our family has lived for 18 years and where our children went to Evanston Township High School. We have been active in St. Nicholas Church, Pope John the 23rd school, the development of the Robert Crown Center, and many other local activities. In short, we continue to cherish this wonderful community.
We are writing to support the proposed Merion Legacy development at 1621-31 Chicago Ave. This 215-unit apartment building at 1621-31 Chicago Ave. would inject new strength to a block that is in need of revitalization. It would bring 338 new residents to downtown Evanston, which means new customers and sales for many small businesses that we patronize, especially the restaurants.
The pandemic has hit the small businesses of Evanston hard. Some have closed and others are barely hanging on. If there was ever a time to bring new residents to Evanston, this is it. Our local entrepreneurs will need these new customers to stay in business.
For a city that is straining to meet its budget, laying off public workers, and cutting services, I understand this project will offer a major financial boost to our community. The new development provides more than $1.6 million to the City in new revenue in 2021, mostly from fees associated with the construction of the project. Even more striking is the proposed project is estimated to generate over $14 million of new Net Revenue in 13 years to the City of Evanston and the two school districts.
And that means the property taxes on our home will not rise as much as they would without this project. We don’t know of any other proposed project or source of immediate revenue that will offer such a financial boost to our city.
As you know, Horizon Realty Group (HRG) already owns The Merion senior independent living facility, having invested $40M of their own money in 2012 to renovate the old North Shore Retirement Hotel, adding an annex, and completely turning around the building for local seniors.
HRG has a proven track record of success in Evanston. The benefits of their investment with the proposed Merion Legacy far outweigh, in my opinion, the objections about the additional height and density they are asking for. We urge you to approve The Merion Legacy development.
Thank you for your consideration,
Susan and Gregory Allen