Plans for a proposed five-story, 26-unit apartment development with a garden center on its ground floor go before the Evanston’s Design and Project Review Committee on Wednesday.

The project is planned for a largely vacant site between Chicago Avenue and the Metra tracks just north of Howard Street.

The Howard-Chicago interesection (Google Maps).

The City Council last summer agreed to sell a city-owned parking lot on the corner to the developer, Evanston Gateway, LLC, and to provide a $1.9 million forgivable loan from the tax increment financing district serving the neighborhood .

But it rejected a proposal to provide another $1 million from the city’s affordable housing fund to have an additional four units of affordable housing included in the development.

Since it’s getting the city TIF funding assistance, the project is has a 20 percent affordable units requirement, rather than the 10 percent that would be required by the inclusionary housing ordinance without city financing.

Developer David Brown is proposing to provide five units on site, affordable to persons making 80 percent of area median income. The city’s ordinance calls for half of the units to be at 50 percent and half at 60 percent of AMI.

But, under the ordinance, the developer alternatively could make a $100,000 contribution to the city’s affordable housing fund for each affordable unit, instead of providing the affordable units on site.

The site plan for the proposed development.

The developer will also be seeking several site development allowances — including for providing 30 parking spaces instead of the 37 normally required — and a special use permit to operate an open sales yard for the garden center.

Different portions of the parcel are now zoned B3 and C1. The proposal calls for rezoning it all to B3, because the C1 zone doesn’t permit residential uses.

After review by the Design and Project Review Committee at its meeting at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, the plans will also require review by the city’s Plan Commission and City Council.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. 100 Chicago – De

    Once again, a developer wants a batch of variances for his plan for the proposed Chicago Ave and Howard St project.   Don’t we have guidelines for a reason?   Why have guidelines if the City is going to ignore them?

    1. Requests for variances

      Hi Scott,

      Requests for variances are part of the process that is prescribed in the city’s code of ordinances.

      The variances requested for a particular project may be smart or dumb, modest or excessive, but without some process for adjusting the rules to the peculiarities of specific sites, a lot of properties would likely lay fallow.

      — Bill

      1. a good process
        It’s become more than obvious that many people in Evanston have no idea how a planned development process works and why variances are a common request of virtually every development. Even single or two-three story developments may need and will ask for variances. As you stated, some good, some bad, but all within the regular process.

        But the anti development people have purposefully misrepresented any request for variance as some kind of flouting of law or set in stone standard. It’s a process as common as sliced bread everywhere in the country and for good reason.

        1. Better Idea
          Form based development would resolve a lot of issues No need for plan commission or public opinion. Just build like they do in Denver and Seattle.

          1. Form-based

            Hi Neal,

            Form-based codes were fashionable among planners in Evanston a decade or so ago.

            And aspects of the concept were included in the Downtown, West Evanston and Central Street plans.

            You could read more about Evanston’s experiments here.

            — Bill



          2. 100 Chicago
            As a gateway development to Evanston, it would seem the rationale is something there us better than nothing. While the vacant lot is clearly undesirable, granted variances for a mediocre project isn’t an enormous gain. This project will be the “entrance” to Evanston for 20 years or more. If it is expected to produce significant REVENUE, perhaps it is still worthy for a bland building. Tax REVENUE is tipped heavily to the school district NOT the city, however. Even that MIGHT be worthwhile if it is seen as a major boost to that taxing body. If these conditions are not in play, however, pass on it.

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