Plans for a 47-unit rental residential development at 1620 Central St. were unveiled at a community meeting at Evanston’s Ecology Center Thursday evening.

The project, from developer Real Capital Solutions, would replace a long-vacant office building which several years ago had been proposed to become a dormitory for students with learning disabilities participating in a program at National Louis University.

1620 Central St. in an image from Google Maps.

About 40 people, most of them residents of adjoining townhome buildings or single family homes around the corner on Ashland Avenue, attended the meeting arranged by Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward.

Architect John Myefski of Myefski Architects in Evanston stressed that the plans at this point were quite preliminary and that he would be happy to meet with residents who had concerns about how the building would affect neighboring properties.

The site is located in an Office-1 zone, which permits a building height of 52 feet and a floor-area-ration of 2.0, but requires a 27-foot front setback.

The project is being proposed as a planned unit development. It calls for a height of 47 feet, a floor area ratio of 2.05 and a front setback ranging from five to 15 feet — which is greater than that of adjoining buildings on the block.

An aerial view of the 1600 block of Central Street from the City of Evanston website.

Concerns expressed by residents at the meeting mainly focused on the side-yard setbacks from neighboring buildings and how traffic from the building would affect the busy alley south of Central Street, which is used by parents dropping off and picking up students from St. Athanasius School.

Residents listen to the architect’s presentation.

The plans call for 13 surface parking spaces at the rear of the property and 58 more spaces in an underground parking garage which would be entered from the alley.

A site plan for the development.

The building would have mostly two-bedroom apartments with a few one-bedroom and three-bedroom units. Myefski said that with its location between the Central Street Metra and CTA stations, the development designed to appeal young professionals and empty-nesters.

He said the developers plan to submit the project for city review later this summer. The approval process typically takes three to six months, with a final decision on all planned developments made by the City Council.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. 47-unit planned for Central Street

    The Conceptual plan is ugly.  Looks like an amatuer designed and conceived of this on Central Street.  I beg the Alderman and City to exert themselves with regard to design.  If the final design resembles the conceptual plan, it will hurt property values more than the current vacant building.

    1. Opinion and Reality

      Your entitled to your opinion regarding the looks of the building. But how do you know this building will hurt property values? Your opinion is not reality, only opinion.

  2. Misinformation begins early–zoning would not permit this height

    Regrettably, the City Council can do whatever it wants with respect to zoning.  So it doesn't even matter what the existing zoning code says.  But at least they ought to be honest about the existing zoning code.  The O1 Office District does NOT permit a height of 52 feet when the property is adjacent to property zoned R1.  In this instance, the houses adjacent to this property on Ashland are zoned R1, as is the church property to the rear.  According to City Code 6-15-2-9, when an O1 district line abuts an R1 line, the maximum height of any building shall be established below a plane drawn at a 15 degree angle from a point 5 feet above the property line.  A little quick trig will tell you that to have a 47-foot building would therefore require a setback of 156 feet, not 10 feet, along the side and rear yards abutting the R1 district.  Moreover, section 6-15-2-10 requires a 27-foot "transition landscape strip" between any O1 building and any R1 lot.

  3. What percentage will be low-income housing?

    With 47 units available, does the City have the authority to mandate that any of them be set aside as low-income/subsidized housing?  One unit is about 2 percent, two units would be about 4 percent. 

    We all proclaim to love our diversity in Evanston, right?  Then let's see some more diverse housing options on Central Street.  Not just "down there" and "over there" as has been the pattern in Evanston for decades.


    1. Enough low income housing exists in Evanston

      How much "low income housing" should there be in Evanston? How much is enough? How much is not enough? 

      My taxes only go higher, yet my annual income does not. I need to save money for my kids to go to college. They are not geniuses or super athletes so they are unlikely to get scholarships, except for any need based aid we hope to qualify for. I need to save for retirement since I don't have a defined benefit pension plan, and only a 401K.

      At ETHS approximately 40-45% of students are eligible for free or reduced lunches which suggests to me that many lower income families already live in Evanston. From my perspective and my opinion only, I would like to see that number decrease a little since I think that would alleviate further tax increases in the future.

      I do like and value the diversity in Evanston, but my taxes are putting a strain on my family.

      1. I hear you — also college to save for, no pension, high taxes

        But the question is where is all that low-income housing located? 

        If we add any more low-income housing any place in the city (and I am not arguing that we should), the north side is next up at the plate.  It's about time that low-income housing be spread throughout the city.  Right now, the south and west sides are carrying almost the entire load. 

        Even it up.  It's only right.

        Here's something that surprised me.  The percentage of low-income families in Evanston is not as high as one would think based on the demographics of ETHS. 

        According to the Evanston Public Library website, the 2010 census found that less than 12 percent of Evanstonians lived in poverty:

        "While the percentage of households with incomes topping $150,000 rose to 20.3% from 13% in 2000 and 5% in 1990, the percentage of residents living in poverty also increased to 11.8%, from 11% in 2000 and 10% in 1990."

        Also the proportion of households with incomes under $25,000 dropped to less than 20 percent in 2010:

        "The proportion of households with incomes of less than $25,000 continued to drop to 19.7% from 22 % in 2000 and 29% in 1990. The percentage of households with incomes of less than $10,000 fell to 8.3%, from 9% in 2000 and 11% in 1990."

        So how, based on the 2013 report card published by the Chicago Tribune, are 41.4 percent of the students at ETHS classified as low income?  (http://schools.chicagotribune.com/school/evanston-township-high-school_evanston)

        In my opinion, part of the reason is that Evanston's public school districts (mainly D65 but D202 has its issues as well with public opinion) run off the families who can afford to pay for their children's elementary, middle school and high school educations — the upper middle income and the upper income.  Maybe there are other theories?

    2. Dunno

      Don't know.  But, let's ask you this.  What percentage of your house, or in your condo building will you give to low income housing?  Ya good with that?

      Enough already.

      1. Agreed — enough already

        But if the goofballs who run City Hall want more low-income housing, it's going on the north side. 

        Enough already of the south and west side being the "feel good" zones for low-income housing dictated those by goofballs.

        Glad that I got some people's attention and we agree — enough already of low-income housing.  So who is going to say "no" when the next church (from here or more likely Wilmette or north of there) or do gooder organization that tells us that Evanston or the North Shore in general simply must have more low-income housing?  The goofballs that run City Hall need to tell them to look in another municipality as we are happy to be doing more than our fair share but we are at our limit until further notice.

        If the goofballs at City Hall insist on more low-income housing, it's north and north only.  If north is where it must be located, then guess what?  It won't be done because the goofballs will have no stomach for that fight.  What's fair is fair and it's not fair now.

    3. East

      How about low income housing in East Evanston?  Right in the lakefront among the millionaires and billionaires; ya know, the Learjet liberal clan?   😉

      1. It’s a good point

        City staff should determine low income housing density by voting precinct. When the goofballs get the next proposal for more low income housing (it's when, not if because Evanston is viewed as the community that will accept any and all low income housing for the other northern lakefront municipalities), they will know which areas of town are up next and can act accordingly. 

        I am not against all low income housing. But I oppose the discriminatory pattern that those in charge at City Hall have at least tolerated for more than two decades that I know of. It seems to be based on the attitude that city areas with the most diversity and lowest average incomes should expect to shoulder the burdens of low income housing for the entire city. 

        It's question of fairness and equity for current residents who already have a heavy tax burden and who are doing more than their share of integrating low income housing into their neighborhoods.

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