Jun 1st 2007 4:20AM I'm new to this real estate game, so someone tell me if this makes sense. I'm a college student so feel free to tell me what the real deal is if I'm totally off on this. My girlfriend goes to Northwestern, which seems to occupy the most prime real estate in Evanston. I've seen the waters of Lake Michigan, and it is an excellent view during the summer. In fact, just yesterday in May my girlfriend told me the weather was near high 70s on a warm summer night. This kind of dynamic seems like an unexpectedly prime location for new business in the Chicago metro area. Let's face it, downtown Chicago is getting a little "stuffy", and Evanston could really let businesses and banks - more or less any type of industry - spread its wings. Evanston's close-enough-to-the-action but charming-enough-to-raise-a-family feel could send prices soaring in the short-term if a big player bites soon enough.
I would say that Northwestern University itself can play a pivotal role in the charm factor of Evanston, as it brings a somewhat naturally more "discerning" demand of neighborhood vendors, who include a much more authentic, international flavor to this highly ordered and well-planned district. Northwestern would disagree with all the upwards growth, as this beautiful, sprawling campus houses the 2nd-largest 4-story building in America (only to The Pentagon). Big business could utilize this large pool of "cheap labor", Northwestern being one of the larger private universities of the US's top 10 academic institutions (known for its Kellogg School of Business no less). NYU's prime, South Manhattan location helped bolster its business school; Kellogg and undergraduate wannabes could turn around and help relatively young corporations recruit some eager talent. Atypical of other Ivy-league caliber universities, many Northwestern alums choose to stick close to home because of the plentiful opportunities. Some industries could value this added intangible.
Directly west of Chicago-proper, we see a true, suburban success story that deserves some investigation: Naperville. Taking home CNN/Money Magazine's "Second Best Place to Live" award as of July 2006, we see that well-planned residential communities can be functional with the right big-picture suburban commuter pipelines laid down by the city and region (The 2 Naperville Metra train stations serving downtown Chicago are the most-frequented suburban stations in all of Chicagoland). Check the location of the area directly west of Evanston and North of Naperville; there is ample room for suburban development able to sustain growth for Evanston industry in the long term.
I live in Sugar Land, TX, which is home to #3 on Money Magazine's 100 best places to live. I have my own theories about this real estate, but I would appreciate it if someone with experience or just definitive opinions responded to my thoughts on Evanston's recent growth. Feel free to "educate" if you think this is not a smart move; I'm an amateur that just wants to learn.