Buyers' Market for Condos near Central & Green Bay?

The slowed and nervous economy, real estate market downturn, credit crunch, and general area overbuilding have resulted in a considerable inventory of condominiums near Central & Green Bay in Evanston, despite the advantages of the location and the attractiveness of the units being marketed. This sunny weekend afforded a chance to take a look at the progress of some of the offerings.

The Eastwood of Evanston on the site of the old Evanston Theatre complex, largest of the projects within a short walk distance of the intersection, was a controversial development when introduced, but at this point neighbors look forward to its completion, and wonder what retail will inhabit the ground floor. Currently on hold after its developers sought a year-long extension on groundbreaking, reportedly 6 or 7 of approximately 50 units have been presold or are under contract. Delivery is projected for 2010. The multi-use building has its sales office open on weekends, with marketing by Edward James. Its low end has 5 different floor plans for one-bedroom condos priced "from the mid-$300s to low $400s," the top-tier three-BR units start in the upper $700s and exceed a million dollars, but most units are 2BRs from 1500-1800 s.f., ranging from the mid-$400s to the upper-$700s. The sales office is open on weekends or by appointment, and features a model kitchen, brochures, and sample finishes.

Much further along but with a smaller percentage of presales is the 13-unit Prairie Central development (above) a little north of Prairie Joe's at 2615 on, you guessed it, Prairie St. Despite requiring a zoning change, and having very shallow ground floor retail, this development was generally supported by the neighborhood. With landscaping installed ands awnings up this weekend, the 4-story building (with the top floor set back) now looks quite attractive and blends aesthetically with the vintage building directly south of it. Some thoughtfulness is evident in the landscaping and trim. An open house this weekend showed off several of the airy, open-floor-plan units, all with granite counters, stainless steel kitchens. Every unit has at least some balcony or terrace space, with tree-dappled views of Green Bay, Prairie, and some of Central Street. If I were shopping, I'd most like the penthouse unit, with a large terrace overlooking the business district; it's unfortunately already spoken for, but many nice views remain. At least three of the units are ready to move into right now and the others await only buyer's choice of fixtures, tile and wood to be finished out. Sizes range from a 1397-s.f. 2BR unit for $475,000 to a 2,290-s.f. two-floor 3BR, 2BA duplex for which $750,000 is asked. Like the Eastwood, each unit comes with 1 or 2 garage spaces, depending on unit size, with additional spaces available for purchase. The location of Prairie Central has a lot of advantages many condos don't have, such as a mainstream supermarket within walking distance (the Dominick's on Green Bay is just 2 blocks away).

For those looking at a more affordable option, just across Central Street is the Prairie Manor condo redevelopment by Cyrus, in a vintage courtyard building at 2535-2539 Prairie. A sign outside indicates that the 40+unit development is 60% sold, which should mean there are 16 or so units left, but I could only find about 5 online. These range from $249,000 to $299,000 and are generally 2BR units. The units have been completely remodeled inside but retain their 1920 footprint, as well as the exterior charm. Virtual tours are available on some of the websites featuring these units. As an added bonus, you get to smell whatever's on the grill at Jacky's Bistro next door.

Finally, around the corner, the two "green" luxury 3BR townhome condos at 1831 and 1833 Lincoln designed by a standout environmental architect, Evanston's own Nathan Kipnis, remain on the market, now priced at $879,000 and $949,000 respectively. These intriguing units are not only spacious (2800 sf) and dramatic, but promise heating and cooling costs 2/3 less than in a conventional building, no small matter as energy prices go only upward, and offer a number of other attractive earth-friendly features, ranging from bamboo floors and recycled-material carpeting to solar collectors on the roof. The views, of Haven Middle School, will never be obstructed, and the units are of course walk-to-train. These are truly beautiful and imaginative homes awaiting the right owner.

I wish all the developers of these projects well, as, I'm sure, do most of our members and readers. No one wants to see units empty or lots vacant. We look forward to welcoming new neighbors, and I hope north Evanston residents will tell their friends about some of the options now available here.


Does anyone know the status of the building at the southwest corner of McDaniel and Central? There hasn't been any construction activity at that site for a long time.


--Barb R.

It feels like as the weather is warming up, so is the real estate market. After 6 months of chill and downward movement since fall 2007 there is encouraging movement.

There are 353 single family homes on the market with an average list price is $652,736.

263 Single family homes sold in the past 12 months with an average sale price of $636,215. Market time which had increased and in some case doubled from previous years appears to be decreasing. down in May to 110 days from a from an average of a 160 days.

As old inventory is bought up and new inventory comes on the market priced more in tune with the market demand buyers are seeming willing to make a move.

The following data from the MLS of Northern Illinois are Evanston averages for list price, sales prices and days on market for 2008

# Homes
Jan (21)
Feb (30)
March (30)
April (40)
May (57)

Mary Rosinski