A 44-unit affordable housing development is being proposed for the block of Church Street just east of Dodge Avenue in Evanston.

The project also involves construction of a new home for Mt. Pisgah Ministry on the corner of Church and Darrow. Mt. Pisgah’s existing building at the middle of the block would be demolished for construction of the new apartment building.

Richard Koenig, executive director of the Housing Opportunity Development Corporation, which is proposing the apartment project, says it will also include 3,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and about 46 spaces in a two-level underground parking garage.

In an interview with Evanston Now, Koenig said the roughly $22 million apartment project will be funded primarily with low income housing tax credits and that all of the units will be made available to households earning 60% or less of area median income.

The apartments, Koenig said, will include a mix of one, two and three-bedroom units.

HODC is also seeking $4 million in financial assistance from the City of Evanston for the development.

A community meeting to discuss the project is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 5, at the church at 1815 Church St.

Koenig says he anticipates the project will be reviewed at meetings of city’s Housing and Community Development Committee and Land Use Commission later in January and could reach the City Council for approval as soon as February.

A 2019 view of the vacant gas station site at 1805 Church St. (Google Maps)

Efforts to redevelop the partially vacant site at Church and Darrow have been underway for decades.

In 2019 the city was able to acquire the vacant former gas station property on the corner after environmental cleanup was completed on the site.

After both HODC and the church separately applied to redevelop the site in 2020, they decided to collaborate and presented preliminary plans for developing the site at a 5th Ward meeting a year ago.

Although previous plans for developing the site have run into community opposition, going as far back as 2006 — when the City Council rejected an earlier affordable housing proposal for the site, Koenig says most comments he’s heard about the latest proposal so far have been very supportive.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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5 Comments

  1. Love the idea, looks ugly & won’t age well, but I love the idea. That’s a dead spot over there and wasted land.

    Please, please, please no fast food places. It’s right by the high school and the main options for kids to eat during lunch are Burger King, McDonalds, Subway, Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts. I mean c’mon Evanston, we can do better than that for our kids.

    I wish E-Town would put a ban on fast food places like Taco Bell, BK, etc and have only home-grown businesses. Wishful thinking, I know.

  2. So, they are building more affordable housing within smelling distance of that horrible garbage transfer station. This area reeks to high heaven 3 seasons of the year, and it’s not fair to people to keep building housing here without a plan for cleaning up.

  3. I’m generally pro development, but I prefer development that doesn’t cost the city of Evanston millions of dollars.

  4. I live a few blocks east of the proposed development and I’m all for providing subsidized housing for lower income Evanston residents. I’m puzzled, however, by the model of retail on the first floor of many newer apartment buildings, despite the fact that currently Evanston, along with likely most communities around the country, are facing a huge problem of empty storefront retail spaces
    Since the pandemic started, and even before, businesses were leaving Evanston’s downtown area as more and more people have turned towards online shopping. I see this as a huge loss and still absolutely believe in privately owned, unique businesses that can attract curious and diverse customers such as those living in Evanston.
    But I believe that realistically, it’s extremely hard to get such businesses to open because of the high rentals and lack of street traffic, especially now that so many people are working at home. Retail on the first level of this new apt building would likely need to appeal to high school students, since they are the overwhelming number of folks who are walking around the area near Church and Dodge.
    A lot of creativity will be required to attract and support such businesses…it could easily end up being a building with an empty 1st floor retail area. Might it not make more sense to add additional living units on the 1st floor? Just wondering!

  5. This location was rejected for a low income housing tax credit funded apartment building in 2006 because the community took exception to concentrating poverty in the 5th ward. This is not a mixed income building; it will be required that all of its residents earn between 30 and 60% of median income, at a maximum. Folks in the neighborhood realized the impact this would have on the corner of Church and Dodge and they resoundingly said “NO!” The dynamics have not changed. This project does not belong at that location.

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