Two new apartment towers are going up at 1881 Oak Ave. and 1890 Maple Ave., with completion expected in 2015.
Seven years after he purchased the two properties at 1890 Maple Ave. and 1881 Oak Ave., developer Bob King finally broke ground on a new apartment building this Wednesday.
“It’s certainly been a long struggle, but we’re glad to here now,” said King, president of Carroll Properties.
King partnered on the project with co-developer Fifield Companies two years ago, and the apartment buildings are now expected to be completed in 2015.
Called E2, the new development will consist of a 16-story tower at 1881 Oak Ave. and a 14-story tower at 1890 Maple Ave., connected by a four-story structure with parking and a deck. There will be 356 apartments for rent, as well as 12 townhomes along Emerson Street and 4,000 square-feet of retail along the first floor.
King said the properties’ location near Northwestern University, downtown Evanston and public transportation made them appealing when he first purchased the two sites. Although the process of getting approval from the city and the effects of the economic downturn slowed the progress of the development, King said he was confident about its future.
“I am as excited about the project as I was then, and I am absolutely as convinced about the transformational nature this project is going to have on this part of Evanston,” he said.
The two towers will have a “modern, clean look” with lots of bluish-gray colored glass, according to Steven D. McFadden, associate principal with architect Fitzgerald Associates. Other materials will include concrete, metal and cast stone for the townhouses, a form of concrete made to look like stone.
King originally envisioned a single apartment building on the site, according to McFadden, but Fifield Companies suggested the design of two towers connected by the four-story structure. That design will help the building appear less massive, he said, and allow more light to reach the units.
The units will range in size from 500 to 1,300 square-feet, and will come in studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom layouts. Each apartment will have quartz countertops, plank floors, stainless steel appliances, in-unit laundry and built-in audio systems.
The three-story townhomes will also designed with a modern look, and will have three bedrooms, two and a half baths and a third-floor outdoor deck. They will vary in size from 1,600 to 1,750 square feet.
E2 is designed to appeal to young professionals as well as empty-nesters wanting to downsize and ditch their mortgage, according to Randy Fifield, vice chairman of Fifield Companies.
To that end, the apartments are finished with levels of luxury that developers typically put into condominiums five years ago, according to CEO and chairman Steve Fifield.
“The apartment world has morphed so dramatically in the last five years,” he said. “Renting is no longer a thing people are ashamed of doing.”
Building amenities will include a full-size sports court, fitness center, private theater, business center, outdoor pool and bike repair room. Like Fifield’s most recent Chicago development, the West Loop apartment building K2, E2 will also offer social programs and other activities for residents.
“E2 is not just another apartment building. E2 is a way of life,” said Randy Fifield.
Ald. Jane Grover (7th Ward) said the building was “a sign of the times” that the local economy was picking up, and hoped the apartments would revitalize the business district at Maple Avenue and Foster Street.
King initially tried to woo a Trader Joe’s to locate in the property, but the company ultimately chose to locate further south in Evanston instead. Today, Grover said she’d like to see a high-end grocery store that Evanston doesn’t have yet, like Mariano’s or the Cleveland-based chain Heinen’s.
Former Evanston Mayor Lorraine Morton, who attended the groundbreaking, remembered that the project started when she was still in office.
“It’s been a long time,” she said. “This corner needed it.”