Albion project shrinks a bit

A rendering of the Albion development, before the height reduction.

The Albion Residential proposal that goes before Evanston's Plan Commission tonight will be 14 feet shorter than it was at the first hearing last month.

Developer Andrew Yule says he's reluctantly reduced the ceiling heights on the apartment floors of the building from 10 to 9 feet and made other changes that cut the proposed height of the building from 192 to 178 feet.

At that lower height the project will still need a two-thirds vote of the City Council to win final approval.

The project would add 286 rental apartments to the downtown area and 186 parking spaces, in what's being described as a transit-oriented development -- one in which many residents would be unlikely to have cars.

The site is in the block of Sherman Avenue between Lake and Grove streets and would be built on property that now houses the Tommy Nevin's and Prairie Moon restaurants.

The developer plans to make a $2.9 million fee-in-lieu payment to the city's affordable housing fund and also include two on-site affordable studio apartments available to persons making 60 percent of area median income.

Other proposed public benefits include $50,000  for landscaping and park revitalization, $50,000 for public art, $60,000 for a Divvy bike share station, membership in Divvy and Maven Car Sharing for residents who don't bring a vehicle to the development among other items.

The Plan Commission is expected to vote on the project tonight, making a recommendation to the City Council.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says tonight's Plan Commission meeting will not be broadcast live online or on cable, because the city's multimedia budget workshop will be taking place at the same time.

The Plan Commission meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at the Civic Center.

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Comments

Curious if anyone has data to show people want to live like this

Has there been any research to show that 286 people are likely to move to Evanston to live in a development like this? And who would want to? Are they assumming people in their 20s and 30s would want to live in small apartments with 9 foot ceilings and where residents of 100 of those apartments can't bring a car -- or even have a guest (maybe their parents) drive over and park in their space?

Data ...

Hi Charlie,

You could try reading the economic feasibility report for the project, which starts at page 363 of the planned development proposal.

In addition, the city staff has concluded, in developing the new transit oriented development parking standards that were introduced at City Council Monday night, based on the experience in other similar communities, that a parking ratio of 0.55 spaces per bedroom (or studio apartment) is workable when developments are near transit stations.

Also, it's argued, that with a cost of $30K or more per space, unused parking garage slots reduce housing affordability.

-- Bill

Parking

At $30,000 a pop, parking spaces seem highly profitable (and they might net more $ in a congested area) since they neither require fancy finishes nor even heating. Also, it will be impossible to correct this (if the area proves too congested) once a building is up.

Our building at Main and Chicago has both CTA and Metra steps away, which many people use (as do I). And we have about 120 spaces....for 76 units. All are filled and people want to rent additional spaces. Most people who can afford $1800 to $3000 rent or condos want a car on weekends and evenings. And they don't want to share. Divvy doesn't work for grocery shopping.

But, if you want to insist fine. Ten years from now, downtown Evanston may be a ghost town of failed businesses (no parking) and commuter residents who don't understand why. Evanston has a plan. Hope it works.

You assert that parking

You assert that parking spaces are (a) highly profitable; and (b) in great demand. If that's the case, why is the developer not proposing more spots? 

Your building on Main/Chicago has nearly 2 spots for every unit, and all are filled. I am not sure why this single data point is relevant. Regardless, if renters and buyers choose to own a car with a dedicated spot, they are free to do so for a price. There is no need for the city to regulate mandated car storage. 

Finally, you argue that in the event Evanston foregoes mandated parking rules, it will become a ghost town in 10 years. I urge you study up on urban planning and venture out of our sleepy North Shore hamlet. You'll quickly discover that dense, non-auto dependent neighborhoods in the US and around the world are more dynamic and economically vibrant than the alternative.

Developers should ask these questions

Charlie,

Your raise valid questions. If I was the developer, I'd want to know those answers, if I was an investor i'd want to know those answers, and if i was a lender, I'd want to know those answers.

As long as this project isn't asking for subsidies from the City of Evanston - (meaning taxpayers) and as long as the project generally fits within the City's strategic plan, why not let them build it?

What person can say they know all the wants and desires and needs of potential renters?

I am surprised at how successful Patisserie Coralie is, especially since it's just a couple of blocks away from Bennison's, an Evanston institution. Tiny Dog Cupcakes didn't fare as well, and they're out of business. Who's to know?

If someone is willing to risk their money and their reputation on this project, I think the Evanston community should welcome this project. Fact is, we do need more people to spend more money to support local businesses and we need more real estate taxes to support all local government entities.

TP

Albion project

I liked the whole concept, until I read the rent would be $1800 for a 450 sq ft studio.  I pay that for a 3 bedroom 4 blocks from the L. That rent seems too really high.

Vintage?

Hi Berny,

The price you're paying tells me your three bedroom must be in what the rental agents call a "vintage" building.

As long as they're not tearing down your building, and there are people willing to pay more for a smaller apartment in a brand new building with all sorts of amenities, what's it to you, or me, that they're able to get more per square foot for it?

Either way, you don't have to be part of the dreaded 1 percent to pay that much for an apartment.

-- Bill

Why developers are restrained

The reason developers aren't given freedom to do anything if it's their money is because it's not THEIR city: there are building codes to follow. And the city council has responsibilith to see that they are followed, or waive them if other circumstances exist. However, once these decisions are reached, particularly if a structure is built with the waivers, it is set "in stone (well, brick, mortar etc.) for several decades. "The Main", built with many of the same waivers ( height, parking spaces, density) has the corner space still vacant. Perhaps it will prove a major asset in the years to come: property taxes, benefits for the neighborhood etc. However, that will take decades to determine. Currently the sidewalk on Chicago Ave. is barely able to handle one individual going in opposite directions. One has to step aside if a wheelchair or a person with a cart is approaching. It is far too narrow (legal but ridiculous for a "new" building). And that situation will remain in perpetuity. But, hey, why worry about disabled, seniors, or commuters who abandoning cars use a cart. Oh, wait, wasn't that the whole idea in the first place???


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