Evanston’s Main-Dempster Mile neighborhood has been thriving for the past decade, and a potential new light installation could help some of the 200-plus businesses thrive after dark while creating a new hangout in the city.
Garland lighting – overhead strings of large lightbulbs often seen in cafes, large event halls, and weddings – could shine over part of Dempster Street, but the festive glow doesn’t come cheap.
Katherine Gotsick, executive director of the Main Dempster Mile organization, hit the pitch: the festoon lighting would hang over the 500 block of Dempster, east of Chicago Avenue, and debut before the holidays when it is from the Design and Project Review the city will approve committee meeting (DAPR) Wednesday October 13th.
The Main-Dempster Mile Special Service Area is funded by taxes on business and commercial real estate along part of Main Street, Dempster and Chicago Avenues. Gotsick said that due to COVID-19, fewer events were held last year, more money was left in the budget that could be used for garland lighting.
“It would be really hard to keep it going forever, but if it turns out to be a great success, money will have to be allocated for it,” she said.
Fairy lights hang between buildings in Panama City Beach, Florida. Similar lights are proposed for Dempster Street in Evanston. (Image by Foundry Co from Pixabay)
Although the Main-Dempster Mile organization would not provide seating under the lights, many businesses in the area already have sidewalk cafes that provide outdoor seating after dark. The lighting would create a new common room for nightly gatherings and a picturesque atmosphere.
Significant construction work took place in Main and Dempster during the summer months while companies tried to recover from COVID-19.
A top view shows the proposed garland lighting in the 500 block on Dempster Street. (Image from the proposal for the Main-Dempster-Meile)
“The goal is to make the area an even more delightful place for people to come and think about when they want to go out,” said Gotsick. “So many companies are emerging from COVID-19 and with the big build this year there have been roadblocks. We want all Evanstonians to find a charming place to hang out and do different things; the 500 block is a place where you can do that. “
If the plan moves forward, Gotsick hopes the lighting will greet Christmas shoppers as the snowfall begins, as long as it is safe to do so with the restrictions of COVID-19.