The owners of The Merion at Chicago Avenue and Davis Street in downtown Evanston have proposed a 19-story, 240-unit active adult residential development to replace a row of one-story retail shops at 1621-1631 Chicago Ave., just north of The Merion.

1621-1631 Chicago Ave. (Google Maps)

Some of those shops now are vacant, but the row also includes Amy Morton’s Found restaurant.

The proposed development, called The Legacy, includes about 3,500 square feet of retail space on the first floor and parking for 85 cars on two underground levels.

A ground floor site plan showing access to the parking garage from Chicago Avenue.

Last May the developers requested a zoning analysis from the city for a shorter but otherwise largely similar development on the site that would have been 13 stories tall and have had 156 dwelling units with the same amount of parking.

The city staff response to that proposal criticized having the parking entrance off the street, rather than the alley, saying it would create conflict points for vehicles, pedestrians and bicycles on the Chicago Avenue protected bike lane.

It also noted that, without site development allowances, the maximum height permitted in the property’s D4 zone is 105 feet and that the proposal also would require site development allowances for floor area ratio, number of units, parking spaces and loading berths.

In lieu of including affordable housing units on site, the developers are proposing to pay $2.4 million into the city’s affordable housing fund.

A drawing showing how the planned building would compare in height to its neighbors.

They say the project will “fulfill the continuing strong demand for downtown Evanston luxury rental residential living rich with amenities that both empty nesters and younger populations are seeking.”

The proposal includes 33 studio, 120 one-bedroom, 82 two-bedroom and five three-bedroom units ranging in size from 593 to 2,183 square feet.

The planned development proposal is currently under review by city staff. A date for its initial review by the city’s Design and Project Review Committee has yet to be set.

The proposed development schedule assumes that if the project is approved by the City Council by this June, construction would be completed by September 2021.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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