The 242-unit, nine story apartment development proposed for 831 Emerson St. won an introductory vote at the Evanston City Council Monday night.

Introduction of the planned development was approved 5-3.

Two of the dissenters, aldeman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, and Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, objected to the zero setback of the planned building from the lot line — which is allowed under the zoning code in the C1a zoning proposed for the site.

Wynne initially claimed the sidewalk would only be eight feet wide and said “a person with a stroller couldn’t get past a street light and another obstruction.”

She said similar limited setbacks along Chicago Avenue in her ward created terrible congestion.

Told that the planned sidewalk would actually be 11-foot-6-inches wide, Wynne said she believed the design still created “too much of a shear wall” rising 103 feet straight up from the street over much of its length.

Fiske asked whether the developer would be able to increase the building’s setback if the city wasn’t requiring a $2.4 million contribution to the affordable housing fund.

Tim Anderson of Focus Development said the project was designed to comply with that ordinance, but “of course there could be some offsets” if the contribution was reduced.

The developer also presented an analysis officials had requested at a previous meeting of how many school-age children might live in the project.

That analysis, by Residential Planning Partners, said that:

  • In census block groups near the site only 6.5 percent of renter households include children 18 and under.
  • The number of children per household in households that have any children in those districts ranges from 1.2 to 1.5.
  • A little over half of the children in those households are of school age.
  • Parents with children are only likely to live in two or three bedroom apartments in the new development.
  • That likely only 8 of the 131 two and three bedroom apartments in the developmet would have children.
  • That a total of 10 to 12 children would be in the development — and, of those, 5 to 7 would be of school age.

Alderman Eleanor Revelle, 7th Ward, joined Fiske and Wynne in voting against the project. Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, wasn’t present for the vote.

The project still requires another vote by the council to win final approval. That vote is scheduled for next Monday.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Huge disservice

    Just as a commenter shared his research on how close this is to the street–FLUSH to a very small sidewalk 8′, vastly closer to street than any of the other new buildings (25′ away mostly) and every single other building on Emerson of any kind. And, just as Melissa Wynn implored us not to make the same mistake they made at Chicago and Main with the building much too close to the street, causing many problems and an eye sore. And, we learn these apartments are 40 percent smaller than any of the units that are just built and too dense…And, just as we learn this was the first time the public got to see and hear these plans publicly as the developer changed them since the last meeting, Don Wilson motions to bring this to council? And it gets approved to go??? How could he do this? Don Wilson can’t possibly care about the city or city residents who will have to deal with an horribly dense that will be a sheer wall of 109′ only 8′ from the street (Melissa Wynn’s words). He seems much more loyal to developers than residents here, as most of the other council. This can not be approved. Please do the right things for once. PS: From 4 pm on, Emerson is backed up with horrible traffic. Imagine 242 new people added. There are NOT all taking the train.

    1. Sidewalk

      Hi Karen,

      As noted in our story, Alderman Wynne was misinformed about the width of the planned sidewalk. It’s to be 11-and-a-half feet wide, not eight.

      I think the confusion may stem from the width of the existing sidewalk there, which looks, from aerial photos, to be about eight feet.

      If you look at those photos closely, or walk the block, you can see that the sidewalk now widens when the street goes under the CTA viaduct just west of the development site. Looks to me like the plan is to extend that sidewalk width across the length of the 831 Emerson site.

      Far as I could tell, the version of the project introduced at City Council is the same as the one approved by the Plan Commission on March 22. Could you indicate what changes you believe have occurred?

      — Bill

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