Ahead of a scheduled final vote Monday by Evanston aldermen on a planned development at 1450 Sherman Ave., Albion Residential has agreed to lower the income threshold for proposed on-site affordable housing units.

In a memo to aldermen, the city’s community development director, Johanna Leonard, says the new proposal calls for three units at 50 percent for households earning no more than 50 percent of area median income, six at 60 percent of AMI and 6 at 80 percent of AMI.

Initially the developer had proposed to meet the terms of the city’s inclusionary housing ordinance by making at $2.9 million payment to the city’s affordable housing fund. But after housing advocates pushed for providing units on site, the developer offered to provide 15 on site units instead.

The mix of affordable units now proposed would roughly match the mix of market-rate units in the building — with eight studios, four one-bedroom and three two-bedroom units.

The height and unit count in the building has been scaled down since the developer’s original proposal, so with the current 273 total units the developer would only be required to pay $2.7 million to meet the terms of the inclusionary housing ordinance.

While some housing advocates have pushed for providing even more on-site affordable units, Leonard says the staff has concluded, after consulting an Evanston-based lender not involved in the project, that the developer is correct in arguing that the project would not be financially feasible with additional on-site affordable units.

Leonard also says that — given the $300,000 to $350,000 cost per unit of buildng new housing downtown — the city would not be able to develop as many units as Albion is proposing to include on site if it were to instead take the fee in lieu.

The memo also suggests that the Albion proposal would increase the number of income-restricted affordable units in census tract 8094 by more than 30 percent and further the goal of distributing affordable housing equitably across the community — especially in high-cost transit-oriented neighborhoods.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Financially feasible or financially extractive?

    Re:  “[Johanna] Leonard says the staff has concluded, after consulting an Evanston-based lender not involved in the project, that the developer is correct in arguing that the project would not be financially feasible with additional on-site affordable units.”

    There is a difference between financially feasible and financially extractive.

    When everything in our entire world — Evanston, Cook County, Illinois, U.S., the U.N., and Mother Earth herself — is screaming for deep policy changes around structural inequities, we — Evanston citizens, staff, and elected officials — need to stop allowing overly rich, non-Evanston companies distract us from (1) taking care of our own and ourselves, and (2) working on those deep structural inequities.   Here are the three reasons that I urged my alderman (Don Wilson 4th ward) to vote “no” on the Albion:

    “We are living through an historic era of deep and comprehensive human upheavals that are directly impacting Evanston (and every other place on earth).  These upheavals require us to draw a clear line between FOUNDATIONAL values for all and LUXURY VALUES for some, especially around the following three urgencies:

    — CLIMATE INSTABILITY.  Climate breakdown necessitates a general Evanston policy of LESS, not MORE, building and development.  This is also mandated by Evanston’s formal commitment to climate agreements.

    — BASIC NEEDS.  More and More Evanstonians are living without the security of basic needs that allows for independence and the ability to thrive.  This requires that we apply our limited resources DIRECTLY to the SURVIVAL of ALL Evanston residents and small businesses, not for the PROFIT of over-rich non-Evanstonians that MIGHT INDIRECTLY benefit some Evanston residents and small business.  This means that our land, money, time, etc. should go directly towards stabilizing housing, food, income, education, transportation, etc., for those without.
    (Note:  “Profit” means income over-and-above expenses, which means beyond just making a living.)

    — CIVIC STRESS.  Our collective level of stress and distrust requires a CIVIC HOUSE CLEANING and an establishment of NEW, CONSENSUS VALUE structures  BEFORE any major permanent decisions are made (e.g., big buildings). This includes re-thinking the purpose of our City of Evanston government as well as the U.S. Constitution. 

    I hope that you will vote “no” on the Albion development (Lake and Sherman).” 

    1. Sorry Debbie, i don’t agree with you

      Your views seem very parochial and limiting. 

      CLIMATE INSTABILITY – I agree we should be more sensitive to the environment as we live our lives today and into the future. However, to build less doesn’t make sense. Where will people live? In fact, Evanston should build more properties like Albion which are higher density and close to public transporation. The resources per square foot of Albion are much more environmentally friendly than tearing down an old house and building a new single family house in Evanston. Per your view, would you restrict and eliminate all future building in Evanston? We should be smarter about new developments and Albion is smarter.

      BASIC NEEDS – Are you advocating for a socialist/communist approach where everyone supposedly has the same resources? If so, please talk with people in Venezuela and see how that’s working out. Is there something wrong with trying to make a fair profit? While you mention the “over-rich non-Evanstonians” what about the “over-rich Evanstonians”? And how do you define “over-rich?”

      CIVIC STRESS – Yes, we are living in a world of stress and it’s exacerbated by the “dotard in the WH.” I am happy to re-think the purpose of the City of Evanston government, but I’m very happy with our U.S. Constitution.


      1. Myth is a comfortable, warm blanket . . .

        “Thomas” . . . it is funny that naysayers of “socialism” limit their myopia to “Venezuela”. Try expanding your horizons to socialized nations who are and have been working VERY well for the world’s most advanced nations, namely those of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, etc.. You know, the nations who are kicking our butts in socio-economic mobility, GDP, access to healthcare, educational attainment, infant mortality, life expectancy, “happiness,” etc. . . . while we as a nation generally wallow near 2nd-world countries like Romania and Bulgaria.

        As far as our Constitution, as long as you understand that it was written by and for a caste-loving, neofeual elite, good on you. Just remember, it was Suffragettes, Unionists, “socialists,” civil rights activists and other PROGRESSIVES to get us where we are, er were, before regression again began taking root in this country!

        Sorry Thomas, I don’t agree with you. 😉

    2. As long as the trains run on time

      I always have trouble understanding the differences between the theories of Communism and Socialism.  But that being said, I vote for the one that knows how to properly run a railroad.

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