The official opening of phase one of Emerson Square, a 32 unit mixed-income rental development in west Evanston, will take place with a grand opening ceremony on Wednesday, November 6, 2013 at 1580 Foster St. in Evanston.  The public is invited to attend and officials from the state and federal government, the City of Evanston, Brinshore Development, LLC, and Clearbrook, Inc. will be on hand to celebrate the opening.

Emerson Square unites residential neighborhoods long separated by the vacated Mayfair railroad right of way and the industrial and light-industrial buildings that bordered it. In 2007, the Evanston City Council approved the West Evanston Master Plan, a comprehensive land use plan developed through a community based process to organize residential, commercial and recreational needs into a more livable, walkable community with a lifecycle of housing choice and new streets and trails. Emerson Square is the first step toward achieving that vision; it transforms a vacant and blighted industrial parcel into mixed-income housing with upgraded amenities, including a park and community gardens.

Development of Emerson Square was made possible through a Neighborhood Stabilization Program 2 grant from the federal government. The application submitted for this highly competitive funding by the City of Evanston and Brinshore Development resulted in a grant of $18.15 million, the largest housing grant Evanston has ever received.  Evanston was one of only 56 communities out of 500 applications awarded nationwide.  A critical element was to link the response to the foreclosure crisis to a larger plan to revitalize this west Evanston neighborhood through a unique public/private partnership between the City of Evanston and Brinshore Development, LLC.  Emerson Square is the catalytic anchor of this neighborhood revitalization effort.

Altogether, Brinshore and the City of Evanston have brought a total of nearly $35 million in investment to revitalize two neighborhoods in the City of Evanston and rehabbed or developed 133 housing units.

“We are happy to celebrate the opening of this wonderful project and we wish to thank all of our many partners who were instrumental in making this development happen.  Without them we would not have the beautiful new homes that line these streets,” said Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl.  “Thoughtful planning and the diligence of those involved created a special place that residents are proud to call ‘home.’”

Designed by award winning architect Pappageorge Haymes Partners, Ltd. and constructed by Linn-Mathes, Inc. Emerson Square includes a mix of spacious, beautiful townhomes and flats, available to households at a variety of income levels. At stabilized occupancy, 32 households will live in Emerson Square. In addition, the development includes a new park, a street and a community garden.

“Emerson Square presented a great opportunity to work with IHDA, the City of Evanston and our project partners to build much needed mixed-income housing, remove blight and implement the City of Evanston’s West Evanston Master Plan” said David Brint of Brinshore Development.

More than bricks and mortar, Emerson Square has become home to many families who love their apartments.

“The building is well kept and it’s a blessing to be here” said Emerson Square resident Karen Evans.

The financing for Emerson Square included seven layers of public and private financing.
IHDA provided an allocation of state and federal tax credits and loans to the development
Prior to construction, the City of Evanston acquired the site and funded the demolition and deconstruction of the vacant industrial building and environmental remediation of the site in preparation for the development. The demolition, remediation and construction of Emerson Square leveraged $5 in public and private funding for every $1 of City of Evanston investment.

The Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago provided gap financing through their “Affordable Housing Program. Chase and IFF provided construction and permanent loans to Emerson Square. The Richman Group Affordable Housing Corporation and Fallbrook Credit Financing invested in the tax credits. The Regional Housing Initiative and the Housing Authority of the County of Cook collaborated to provide project based rental assistance to a portion of the units.

An open house will commence after the ceremony.