A plan to remodel the old Masonic Temple building on Maple Avenue to house 30 apartments will go before Evanston’s Preservation Commission Tuesday.

Developer RC Lodge LLC would add new windows and skylights, a wheelchair lift and a new storage area at the rear for trash, but would otherwise maintain the exterior appearance of the building at 1453 Maple Ave.

A rendering showing modifications to the building’s exterior.

Myefski Architects has developed the plans for the adaptive reuse of building that now has three stories plus a basement.

The plans would add a mezzanine level to the high-ceilinged first floor.

Most of the apartments would be duplex units spanning two floors.

The developer is seeking zoning variations for the number of units, the rear yard setback and to provide just 10 leased off-street parking spaces.

The building, constructed in 1928 and designed by the firm of Holabird and Roche in the classical revival style, is a local landmark. It has been vacant for a number of years.

An image of the Masonic Temple shortly after it was completed, showing Victorian homes to the left on Maple, where an eight-story 1970s-vintage apartment building now stands, and more homes in the distance on Lake Street, where the police and fire headquarters building was constructed in 1949.

In a report to the commission, City Planner Cade Sterling says, “Adaptive use to residential is one of the most common adaptations for historic institutional resources” and that “it is not uncommon for adaptive use projects to request relief in order to facilitate a new use within an existing building envelope.”

The Preservation Commission will make a recommendation on the appropriateness of the proposed changes to the Land Use Commission.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. I think 10 parking spaces for 30 units is going to put significant additional strains on on-street parking. I know the fantasy is that hardly anyone in Evanston will own a car and exclusively use public trans, but really, what is the current ratio of cars to Evanston families? It certainly isn’t 1:3.

    1. While many Evanstonians are two (or more) car families, others get by with far fewer vehicles.
      For evidence check these stories:
      … and note that the three publicly-owned downtown parking garages are roughly half empty.
      A lot of factors go into determining what’s the right amount of parking for a particular development.
      — Bill

  2. Who will get priority for those units and parking spaces once the building is ready? I’d love to be in.

  3. Evanston has gone through alot of change in recent years, especially in its downtown.
    I hope they don’t “throw the baby out with the bathwater” insisting on too much change. The massive growth of new condos, apartments, and pricey restaurants has changed the downtown. I never dreamed they would close Barnes & Noble bookstore or longtime favorite Unicorn Cafe. The NU students hung out & studied at these great places, and out of town visitors like myself always enjoyed them.

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