Left to right, Tim Anderson of Focus Development, Andrew and Richard Aronson of Atlantic Realty, Ryan Morrison of The Carlyle Group, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, Second Ward Alderman Peter Braithwaite, Seventh Ward Alderman Jane Grover and City Director of Community and Economic Development Steve Griffin celebrate work on the Sienna development. Photo by Mary Mumbrue

The noise of construction equipment already working on the Sienna development appeared to have no effect on the enthusiasm of City officials, spectators and the development team as they announced the beginning of Focus Development’s completion of the long-dormant Sienna project.

The development encompasses the block bounded by Church and Clark streets and Oak and Ridge avenues. Construction problems – the collapse of one of the garages – followed by foreclosure, stalled the project for several years, leaving what many considered an eyesore along one of Evanston’s main arteries.

The pendulum for this pit has swung the other way. A development team assembled by Bill Harding of Harding Realty at the request of Inland Bank, which held the property in foreclosure, will complete the development with a 175-unit condominium building. The new building will be “sympathetic” to the present ones, said Tim Anderson of Focus Development. Other members of the development team are Booth Hansen, architects, The Carlyle Group, investors, and Atlantic Realty, the real estate agent.

Dennis Marino, zoning manager for the City, said the team has turned around “a really bad situation and the failure of the economy. This is a really good example of the bank’s working with the developer, the condominium association and the City.”

“The building is going to be fabulous,” Mr. Anderson said. “Units will have nine-foot ceilings and custom wood cabinets. There will be a pool, a cyber café and an in-house movie theatre.” He said two aspects of the project will reflect the values of Evanston: Nine of the units will be affordable, according to City guidelines, and 12 will be “super-eco” units, incorporating many sustainable aspects.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, in whose Second Ward the property lies, thanked the Sienna residents for their cooperation with the development team and thanked the developer for its sensitivity to the residents.

Commenting on what might have seemed the equipment’s cacophony, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl said. “The noise is a beautiful sound. The project is going to be lovely. You did the right thing. You came to the rescue. Thank you for investing in Evanston.”

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...