Evanston zoning officials this week received a proposal from a developer to build a 16-story building that would occupy most of the west side of Sherman Avenue in the block between Lake and Grove streets downtown.

A summary of the proposal contained in a weekly zoning update issued this afternoon says the developers are proposing a project that would have first-floor commercial, 298 dwelling units and 192 parking spaces.

The property is located in the city’s D4 Downtown Transitional zoning district, which permits a height for residential buildings with enclosed parking decks of up to 145 feet.

The site is roughly 36,000 square feet in size, which means the project is required to go through city’s planned development process. That process permits the City Council to grant development allowances that could result in greater height than otherwise permited under the zoning code in return for various public benefits.

A rendering of the proposed new building, with the existing Rotary International building at right.

It is across the street from the 12-story Holiday Inn and just south of the 18-story Rotary International building.

It’s also in one of the city’s transit-oriented development districts that permit reduced amounts of parking for buildings close to mass transit stations.

Alderman Don Wilson, whose 4th Ward includes the site, said he hadn’t yet met with the developer, but his initial sense was that the proposal was too big for the site.

The properties that would be redeveloped as part of the project include two long-time downtown dining spots, Prairie Moon and Tommy Nevin’s.

According to county and state records, the current owners of the northern part of the site are two limited liability companies managed by Jacqueline J. Goldberg of 718 Ridge Ave., who was in the news four years ago when she lost a lawsuit to Donald Trump in a dispute over condo units she’d bought in Chicago’s Trump Tower. As of earlier this year she was still trying to sell one of those condos.

She bought part of the Sherman Avenue property in 1999 for about $1.3 million and the rest in 2007 for $2.2 million.

The Nevin’s property, at the south end of the block, is owned by Nevins Real Estate LLC of Willowbrook, which acquired it for $1.3 million in 2003.

The developer is Albion Residential of Chicago.

The proposal was submitted as a request for a zoning analysis, the most preliminary review by city staff in an approval process that often can take a year or more.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. What?

    Would this mean the end of Tommy Nevins, Prairie Moon, Kansaku and other great places in Evanston? This build up of downtown Evanston is getting out of hand. 

    1. Restaurants

      Hi Ron,

      As indicated on the aerial photo and the rendering, the two story Sherman-Grove building is not included in the planned project site. So the development would not affect Bar Louie, Kansaku or Creperie Saint-Germain, the restaurants in that building.

      But Prairie Moon and Tommy Nevins would have to close or relocate.

      — Bill

      1. Evanston is losing its charm.

        Evanston is losing its charm.  Soon it’ll look like Michigan Ave.

        1. ‘Downtown’ Evanston

          I’d prefer if peole would specify ‘downtown’ Evanston as losing its charm, because most of our community’s residential neighborhoods of single-family homes are just as lovely and quiet and caught in time as they’ve ever been. 

          1. Buildings

            Yes…I meant only the downtown area…and I do like Michigan Ave. as well……there is just such a disparity between the big downtown buildings, and the beautiful charm of the Evanston homes and neighborhoods…’s almost like being in two different cities…….

    2. Stop the overdevelopment!

      Yes, this is nuts. Stop the overdevelopment. Aside from the demands on our services, schools (remember the referendum due to 1500 additional kids?) this overdevelopment is making Evanston a generic, shadowed, urban place that takes away our character. None of this makes Evanston a better place to live for current residents. Stop selling our soul to developers!

    3. downtown

      When do the citizens of Evanston get to vote on having one more monstrous building in our downtown?  Could we please keep a few buildings that reflect our history?  I’m all for progress, but I’d also like to see some of our ‘old Evanston’ flavor left in the soup.

      1. Vote?

        Hi Linda,

        Well, we just had a vote for aldermen this week … and all five incumbents who were on the ballot won relection, based on the still-unofficial results.

        Also, a portion of downtown, the D1 zone, has a height limit of just 42 feet.

        And in the 1000 block of Davis Street downtown, two new buildings were completed last year. One is one story tall, the other two stories. One of those is very close in appearance to the structure destroyed by fire that it replaced.

        — Bill

      2. opening bid

        Density near the Metra and CTA stations is definitely a good idea.  There should be more projects like this.

        My guess is that this proposed 16-story height is just the opening bid.   All of the NIMBYs – many of whom don’t live anywhere near this area – will to the Council meetings and put signs on their lawns saying it is too high and destroying the ‘character’ of Evanston.    The developers and aldermen will eventually ‘compromise’ on something shorter – maybe 12 floors.   Then the NIMBYs can be satisfied in knowing they stopped another ‘tower’ , and the developers can still build something.

    4. Not bad looking…

      It seems from this picture there is some retail planned along the street..also some sort of green space which would be nice. After my first initial look, i think I like the design.

  2. Save Nevin’s & The Moon!

    I would really hate to lose Prairie Moon and Tommy Nevin’s, both of which are unique to Evenston.  Fortunately, there’s plenty of space to relocate in the downtown area. Indeed, Church Street beginning to look a little desolate. 

  3. In Support of Dense Development

    My wife and I own a unit just opposite the tracks from this new proposed development. We are both very much in favor of additional, dense, transit-oriented developments within the downtown core of Evanston (including the ongoing development at Maple and Davis, and the proposed developments at Chicago and Davis, as well as Emerson and the Purple Line). Retail in the downtown corridor has suffered over the past few decades, both as a result of auto-centric regional malls, and more recently as a result of the shift to online retailing. Cities with cores that have remained vibrant have done so by bringing in additional residents who deeply value living near a mix of local services within walking distance of their homes.

    If Evanston would like to counter the prevailing trends that continue to hollow out retail corridors in both small towns and big cities across the country, then we should continue encouraging the trend towards dense, walking and public-transit-friendly developments in zones with a mix of retail options on the ground level. We would seek to support local officials that share these views.

    1. Not working

      The retail space on the ground floors of these buildings aren’t working. Have you seen the bottom of Sherman Plaza? Other than North Face and Evereve, there is a string of vacant storefronts. They are built for chains that come and go and the rent too high for anything else. Who wants to shop in generic and dark downtown? Meanwhile, charming Central St, Dempster and Main seem to be doing well.

      1. Working

        Hi NEevres,

        The retail vacancy rate in Evanston, according to the commercial real estate firm CoStar, declined from 9 percent to 5 percent from the start of 2015 through the end of 2016. See this report from the city for details. As of the end of last year, the vacancy rate here was lower than in the rest of the North Shore and in Chicago’s Loop.

        There have been a few new vacancies downtown since the start of this year, but some cases building owners have deals in the works to fill the vacant slots. It’s not pretty to see any vacant storefronts, but turnover is a fact of retail life. And there are vacancies in the neighborhood shopping districts as well as downtown.

        — Bill

      2. The myth of Main Street

        Enquiring minds should look at this wonderful article , ‘The Myth of Main Street‘ ( April 8, 2017) by Louis Hyman in the New York Times, in which he discusses how the nostalgia for small town ‘Main Street’, with local shops and local manufacturers, is really misplaced. While the NIMBYs may be sentimental about the local bookstore, shoe store, restaurant in their charming small towns, the fact is that Amazon, Wal-Mart, Target and Chipotle are more efficient and do a better job of meeting customers’ needs.

        This one paragraph from Mr. Hyman’s article, about ‘affluent college towns’ and ‘tony suburbs’, seems to be relevant:

        “It’s worth noting that the idealized Main Street is not a myth in some parts of America today. It exists, but only as a luxury consumer experience. Main Streets of small, independent boutiques and nonfranchised restaurants can be found in affluent college towns, in gentrified neighborhoods in Brooklyn and San Francisco, in tony suburbs — in any place where people have ample disposable income. Main Street requires shoppers who don’t really care about low prices. The dream of Main Street may be populist, but the reality is elitist. “Keep it local” campaigns are possible only when people are willing and able to pay to do so.”

        1. The Reality

          Welcoming city to the elitist.  Support the schools and share in  the rising cost of being a welcoming city. Eventually you will want a “piece of the sky” your views will be blocked; however, will the lake be an option?  Speaking of wind tunnels, why not think of wind turbines.  Support the energy that will be used for your sustainability.  For those that were a part of the Evanston small town quaint living, maybe not charming, but  the quality of life in what is referred to as “downtown” there was something for ALL income brackets.  From Blums Vogue, Carsons, Rothchilds, Lords, Carsons, Bramsons, Josephs, Bakers, Jeromes, Wieboldts,  five and dimes, and much more, yes those WERE the good ole days. the charm of small town quaint living. Home cooked meals in eateries and grills with seasoned cooks.  Your living will now consist of your walking distance bars and places to congregate with drinks in hand. Climbing over snow mounds to put a dollar in the parking meters?  Maybe the city will eliminate them for ya an close off downtown just for you.. Enjoy!  we sure did..   


        2. Off base

          There’s nothing mythical about it. Nevins is the very last living business in a quickly dying city. A photo of Tommy Nevin still hangs above the fireplace, as it did 25 years ago. It’s now the oldest bar in the city. The front door opens directly to a smiling bartender. Not the flanneled hipster of Peckish Pig, or the all black clad mixologist PhD over at Bangers and Lace. Just a plain-clothed, regular human being. Now, they may be edgy and sarcastic to the point of being just rude, or they may be the disarmingly charming hippy type tending bar at your visit (and it’s ALWAYS one of the two), but you will certainly be engaged from the very moment you walk in. And that was the original idea, that was the very intention Nevin’s grandson, Steve Prescott when he originally opened the pub. The pub is an open forum. It belongs to the public to be used just as our Evanston Library. It’s the only place left where you meet, solely to meet. To have meaningful social interactions with kin. And in this spirit, the contribution this space has made on the people within this growing city has been and continues to be immense. How many couples fell in love here? First kiss? How many business partnerships formed? How many Northwestern alum had their first drink here? Celebrated their 21st? How many of us have repeatedly taken advantage of their dirt cheap party room? How many of us stopped by on a Sunday afternoon and found a dog friendly spot outside on the patio for a cold beer and live music. Where else in Evanston again? In a strip? This place is a huge public asset. Hopefully, the passionate young, the NU student body who pile in every week by the droves will understand the immensity and the importance of having open social spaces, but then this is the generation that prefers iPhones to eye contact.

  4. The more highrises the merrier

    Sorry Nimbys but downtown Evanston has already transformed into an urban-like suburb. Downtown Evanston has about 7 highrise condos, 5 highrise commercial buildings, 3 highrise apartment buildings and 2 highrise retirement buildings. What’s one more? 

    And man, boy, we could use the extra tax revenue since Evanston voters this week approved a $116 million tax increase for D65 just after it gave the Teacher’s Union a pay raise and extra  benefits. Elected goverment officials have shown no mercy in keeping sales, property and income taxes down.

    I kinda like this rendering. The more highrises the merrrier.

      1. Definition of NIMBY

        From Wikipedia: “NIMBY (an acronym for the phrase “Not In My Back Yard”), or Nimby (as a word, instead of an acronym), is a pejorative characterization of opposition by residents to a proposal for a new development because it is close to them (or, in some cases, because the development involves controversial or potentially dangerous technology) often with the connotation that such residents believe that the developments are needed in society but should be further away. The residents are often called Nimbys and their state of mind is called Nimbyism.”

        In the Evanston context, some people typically object to any building taller than about three stories as being too tall for the neighborhood. Others have a somewhat higher height limit in mind.

        — Bill

  5. Another addition to wind tunnel ?

    Surely it cannot make the wind tunnel worse. NOT! Sat. April 8 is beautiful with mild winds—except on Orrington and esp. the Chase Bank where you have to hold your hat. Before they closed it, I went to the Chase on Grove to avoid the Orrington wind. Until the Rotary building [finished 1977] the [now] Chase bank building was the tallest building and Orrington was a wind tunnel. Sherman Plaza [2006] produced winds almost as bad as Orrington but extended to as far as Clark. The winds by Whole Foods and Park Evanston [just south of Whole Foods] can stop a bike dead. I’d think the office building proposed for the library parking lot will add more wind to Orrington and maybe Chicago Ave. I have to wonder about the effect the high rise on Maple north of Church is—though I don’t think there has been much wind there. Since nothing has been said about a new building on Church between Sherman and Orrington for a while, I assume that is dead.

    I’m not against new building but this is getting ridiculous.

    1. Wind Tunnels…. HA!

      The City of Chicago seems to thrive with 100 times the amount of highrise buildings and their associated “wind tunnels”. It hasn’t blown away yet, and last time I checked, Downtown Chicago (you know… the part of Chicago that has the most highrises) was experiencing unprecedented growth. People really don’t care about the wind… if it’s not your thing, you could always check out downtown Wilmette, Winetka, etc. I was at Chase Plaza on April 9th and experienced the wind for about 10 seconds as I crossed the plaza to go to Lyfe Kitchen. It really wasn’t that bad. Not a big deal. Just walk a little quicker, hold your hat, and deal with it. The environmental benefits of a dense downtown far outweigh the small inconvenience of wind for 10 seconds.

    2. Wind turbines at every intersection!

      With all of these existing wind tunnels blowing about in downtown Evanston I propose we install a wind turbine at evey downtown intersection!

      We can power all of Evanston off these turbines. Afterall, we have to do our part and combat climate change. And Evanston needs to live up to its reputation as a green city after it was named the prestigious Earth Hour City Capital of America.

      We can easily pay for these wind turbines by raising city taxes again. No one would object to another tax hike.

      I mean, when life hands you a lemon you make lemonade. Right?

  6. Why not devote 2 floors to

    Why not devote 2 floors to retail space so we can have more empty stores?

  7. Could be a nice addition

    That particular block of Sherman Ave. will benefit from the proposed project. I like the design and I’m glad it’s modern rather than boring and uninspired (looking at you Sherman Plaza).

    Presumably, the developer will be forced to provide retail space at grade, but I question the value of yet more retail space in downtown Evanston. Without retail space, the architect could provide a softer and pleasing visual experience at grade. After all, this area is somewhat transitional anyway.

    Note to management: I’m disappointed with Evanston Now for neglecting to identify the architect, yet publishing the home address of one of the owners of the land. 

  8. Looks cool

    I think this is a very cool looking building, and as someone looking to downsize from a large house (and very large taxes – soon to be even larger) I hope it is somewhat affordable because this is a great location.  I agree that there is no need for any more retail space – lets use what we have.

    1. re looks cool, etc.

      Yes, it does look cool, but do we need it?  I agree with those who would hate to see Tommy Nevins and Prarie Moon displaced.  It’s not easy to find spaces as large as the ones they occupy.  A lot of the empty storefronts aren’t large enough for restaurants.  Some of the development has made Evanston a more interesting place –  the movie theatre and the restaurants that have opened (but they come and go also).  Taxes from these buildings never help to lighten the burden of homeowners or renters.  Property taxes keep rising, rents keep rising and Evanston has become the best city money can buy.

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