Albion Residential submitted formal plans to the city this week for its proposed 16-story rental residential development on Sherman Avenue in downtown Evanston.

A spokesman for the developers says they anticipate the project will be reviewed by the city’s Design and Project Review Committee next month, followed by Plan Commission hearings later this summer.

The design of the project, from Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture, has undergone some changes since preliminary plans for it were presented at a community meeting in May.

Perhaps most notably, the supports for the south end of the tower, where it would overhang a proposed pocket park, have been changed from two pillars to four.

The two-pillar design had drawn a significant amount of criticism at the community meeting.

But the curved design of the tower, which some residents at the public meeting had also criticized, remains in the new design.

A street-level view looking south along Sherman.

With 292 units, the Albion project is expected to generate $3 million for the city’s affordable housing fund and roughly $1 million a year in property tax revenue for the city, schools and other local taxing bodies.

That’s more than four times the property tax revenue generated by the current buildings on the site, which include the Tommy Nevin’s and Prairie Moon restaurants.

The new plans also slightly reduce the total number of units in the building, from 298 to 292, and shift the apartment unit mix to include somewhat fewer studios and more one-bedroom units.

Under the new plans 54 percent of the apartments would be studio or convertible units, 24 percent would be one-bedrooms, 20 percent two-bedrooms and 2 percent three bedrooms.

The developer’s plans indicate the new building, at 192-feet, would be the fifth-tallest structure downtown. The nearest taller building is the city’s fourth-tallest, One Rotary Center, at 1560 Sherman Ave., which reaches 237 feet.

Making use of the city’s recently adopted transit-oriented development allowances, the developers plan to provide a total of 172 parking spaces on site, including 10 for the ground-floor retail uses. That works out to a ratio of 0.56 spaces per residential unit.

Copies of the project documents are available on the city website.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Looks great

    This looks like a great project. Perfect location for transit-oriented development, interesting architecture, great tax benefits for the city. There aren’t even any high-rise neighbors who can complain about blocked views, and the Holiday Inn is better off with some of the noise from the tracks blocked by this building.

    1. Does anyone have an estimate
      Does anyone have an estimate for how many school-aged children might live in the building? I presume it’s a low figure, but it makes limited sense to highlight how much a building will provide in revenue for the school districts without also estimating the incremental costs.

    2. Yet again there is the
      Yet again there is the illusion that renters don’t or never have cars. As free parking continues to vanish on side streets and empty storefronts grow because it’s too congested an area to drive to and park around, the brilliant transit plan will be shown as the failure it is. By then the density will not be addressed.

    3. Not a perfect location-should be human scale, vibrant area

      It is not a perfect location for a block long, 16 story building. This is a transitional block to residential that was designated to be 3-5 stories in a plan created in 2009 with input from the community. We need this block as part of our downtown, a human scaled sunny spot with outdoor cafes, etc. We do NOT need MORE transit oriented LUXURY RENTAL HOUSING. The luxury housing high rise on Main and Chicago is 50 percent vacant! We must demand the vacancy rates of all of the other buildings (not just E2) and understand there are only so many NU students to live in them. Sophmores will be required to live on campus next year and enrollment is going down. We already have ALL OF THESE LUXURY MICRO HOUSING RENTALS:
      — E2 (350 units),
      — The buidling they approved yesterday on Emerson (242 units of luxury)
      – The building of luxury rentals they are just startung to build on Noyes
      — the monstrosity being built on Maple across from Benisons (hundreds of units)
      — the building next door to the above
      — The 33 story building they want to build on Davis
      — The giant one-block long building they want to build above FOUND and six lots– The giant building above the copy shop, on Benson, near EAC
      — the orange balcony high rise
      — the high rise across from the movie theater
      — The high rise on Sherman, next to the Rotary Buidling
      — The high rise above Whole Foods
      — The high rise above Little Mexican Cafe

      We need to demand to see the unmet need for tiny luxury rentals. We are about to ruin our city for this and have a bunch of half full high rises.

      1. Just to clarify, the “orange
        Just to clarify, the “orange balcony building” and the “yellow balcony building” are condominiums, not rentals.

        Other than that, I pretty much agree with you.

      2. P.S. the building above the
        P.S. the building above the Little Mexican Cafe is a condominium building as well.

  2. Lookin good
    This design looks good and it appears Evanston rentals are in high demand.

    I just wonder where do all the millions in the affordable housing funds go? How is that money used, who does it benefit and is there a political angle involved?

    I only ask because I’d like to get a piece of the action. See, I want to live in a lakefront home but I just can’t afford it.. Who’s looking out for you?

    1. Looking damn good

      Oh, AnAl, I love your irony; you’re always thinking. But, I also think the building is fine. Great, even. On workdays at lunch, I walk around the Congress Park, Michigan Avenue, Roosevelt Road, Clark Street sector. There are so many new apartment projects going up now, it is amazing. And more to come. I’m glad this type of development seeks out Evanston.

  3. Bust for downtown. “Most livable city” dismantled by developers

    “Most livable city,” is what we actually were, now city council is turning it into “most-blocks-of impersonal-pure-blocks-of-overdevelopment city.” Or, “developers, do as you will, city.”  By design almost, the city council, seems hell bent on stripping away Evanston’s authentic character, the likes of which other cities try to manufacture (and are!). Instead of following an existing downtown 2009 plan that enlivens Evanston, the city council is simply executing on the directives of developers and are wiping away our character, replacing it with a mish mosh of block long luxury high rise rentals (and removing the Tallmadge lights for good measure!) transforming our city without any regard for citizen buy-in. I went to the “citizen’s input” meeting where a huge room of upset were up in arms about the scale and size of this building (you left early, Bill) of yet another massive building downtown of micro unit LUXURY RENTALS UNITS, clearly for NU (let’s be honest.) We got reassurances from Don Wilson that this was NOT an actual plan, and the developers were listening to the public. What do we get now? The exact same plan –but with FOUR columns, instead of two columns. What else do we get?  Variances, allowances to go 16 stories on a transitional block that was designated to be no higher than 3-5 stories in the 2009 downtown plan!!! These high rises are not bearing out their value of saving downtown retail (not workingl–see all empty stores below Sherman Plaza.) We have entire blocks of downtown Evanston with impersonal (all luxury) high rise housing that shadows streets, creates wind tunnels, with empty chain-only storefronts below. This is a key remaining human-scale block of downtown Evanston that needs to be re-imagined and maybe even re-developed with a “new urbanism” vision of human-scale buildings (3-5 stories) of varied sized, appealing to shop and stroll. An attractive, vibrant place at the human scale where people want to be (THINK: an Evanston version of Southport!)  And no, this “affordability fund” for the lottery winners who might get lucky enough to use, is NOT helping affordability in Evanston. This luxury rent ($1850 for a one bedroom!!) is bumping the rents up city wide for renters and pushing people out. The rental rate of the spaces below is making it nearly impossible for independent shop owners to survive in Evanston, (which is what people here want.) Want to know why downtown is not doing well in a town that is very pro-Evanston in every way? Because it is not appealing, the chain stores are not appealing, the shadowed, windy streets are not appealing to linger on a sunny day (see Central St.) That block could be just that. Instead it will be a bust. No one wants to hang out at the bottom of a high rise on a dark, windy street (on the beautiful North Shore.)  Anyway, the high rent will soon shutter any restaurant. We deserve better, city council. We cannot lose this block. PS: A bunch of college kids and 20s kids living there for a year, will not save downtown. 

    1. I actually live in this neighborhood

      I love this building.   I am a 65 year old, 30 year Evanston resident who walks everywhere.  And by this site at least 4 times a day.  I think that this is a great use of a marginal property. 

      Maybe I would live here after I ditch my big old  (Evanston landmark) house down the street.  I have invested significantly to keep my piece of 19th century Evanston current.  But it’s the 21st century. Times have changed and so has the population. 

      I love the vitaltity that this dense living offers.  It is different, but not bad.  I am ready to accept that times have changed. So let’s stop assuming that consistency with the way we used to live is the only way forward.  Don’t think Southport.  Think West and South Loop.  Vibrant urban neighborhoods.  Where not just 20 year olds live. The difference is our urban neighborhood is about 2 blocks by 8 blocks.  Outside, lovely, green 19th and 20th century suburbia.  I think that is idea. Heavanston.

      But more, I am sure that Lemoi Hardware (one of the city’s oldest businesses) loves the new homes,  steps from its door.

    2. How about voicing your

      How about voicing your concerns at the next city council and/or zoning board meeting. 

    3. Are the apartments really ‘luxury’ living for student–vs. dorms

      The writer and others comment on the ‘luxury’ apartments supposedly built for NU students.

      Below is the link to the ‘Room’ costs which vary substantially–$8,200 to $11,600.  ‘Board’ [Meals] is about $5, 800 to $6,300 per year.  The University average figure is $15,500 per year.

      Considering the student are on campus from September to early June and have to vacate for Winter and Spring break [unless they pay extra], you can see why some/many want to live off campus and with splitting cost with one or two others may make ‘luxury’ apartments seem ‘reasonable.’ Of course there  are extra costs with apartments but dorm living can have extra cost—like after hours food.


    4. Exactly. All of these valid
      Exactly. All of these valid points were raised at the community meeting. Our voices have fallen on deaf ears. People are going to be sorry when downtown Evanston is dark and windy and people don’t linger. I am so sorry our elected leadership doesn’t show more guts when in conversation with these developers…no more variances!!

  4. Embrace Evanston Urbanism

    I live and own in downtown Evanston, essentially across the tracks from this building site. I support the construction of this building, and I am disappointed by the myopia and hypocrisy of the NIMBY’s who oppose this development. A few points:

    For a town that claims to value environmental responsibility and reducing the overall carbon footprint, I have a hard time with people that oppose dense development near one of the most convenient transit nexuses in the region. There are very few spots where one can live spitting distance from both a Metra and a CTA stop, and two of them happen to be in Evanston. I say quite simply that if you oppose dense development with less parking in areas close to transit nexuses, you are quite simply part of the problem, and that your endorsement of a car-centric surburban lifestyle will only help to doom us all.

    Retail patterns are changing. I am not blind to the empty storefronts up and down Church and Davis street, but what do you think this area would like if not for all the dense development downtown? I would highly suggest taking a drive up to Winnetka, go to the intersection of Tower and Greenbay Road, park, and then walk the Hubbard Woods business district. This three-block long business district stretch appears to be approximately 50% vacant. In the wealthiest town in the state of Illinois. While much has closed in downtown Evanston, it is clear that we still have a surviving set of businesses that do rely heaviliy on walking traffic from very local area residents. There is a reason the owners of Nevin’s and Praire Moon are in support of this project; they intuitively understand that such development only assists with their long-term survival, in the base of this project, or elsewhere nearby. However retail patterns end up changing long-term, it is very clear that any succesful urban district needs a strong core of residents nearby who are willing to walk for local goods and services.

    Finally, a building that is 78% one-bedroom or smaller will not add a significant number of children to local schools. Opposing development like this is simply another way of asking for higher velocity in terms of property tax increases. And the city council is not going to pass on that $3 million contribution to the affordable housing fund, so I would suggest embracing the future.

    1. This is the most appropriate answer I have ever seen!
      I live on Hinman and I support this project!

  5. handwringing once again.

    And all the hand wringing, sky is falling, Evanston is doomed starts yet again.  Romanticizing the past, little comprehension of the current environment, no ability to see the future, the NIMBY’s once again raise their concerned voices in anger and angst.

    I remember downtown Evanston of 30 years ago, decrepit and failing in every way, empty dilapidated storefronts, sidewallks vacant of people, nothing happening, dull and dying.  And people try to romanticize that?  Today Evanston is vibrant, there are more stores, restaurants, services and people walking the sunny streets than ever before.  We are winning livability awards not because of the failing past, but because the future was embraced and dense urban development has occured. 

    As for the criticism of chains & vacancies, of course there are chains, people patronize chains, that’s how they became chains.  And downtown Evanston is filled with small independent retailer, service and restaurant businesses, simply filled with them.  The idea that downtown Evanston is dead or dying is ridiculous, an example of Nimby’s inability to recognize the truth about the current environment.  The vacancy rate is nowhere near what it was like 30 years ago.   

    The handwringers have always been wrong in the past and they continue to be wrong about the present.  Their constant demands result in buildings getting shorter, more box like, simply uglier and cheaper overall, it’s time to deny them from continually diminishing our town.  Lets build this new wavy building, welcome the new residents, and keep the positive, vibrant changes happening.      

    1. It all depends

      If you think of progress as restaurants and high rises tas progress yes. In the 1970s to at least early 90s, dining in Evanston [esp. Howard to Foster] was practically non-existent. Only one high rise [five sories I think, is still there—Church and Chicago Ave. and I think it had only a couple of tenants and was in bankruptcy several times. If you think of shopping, no. We had large department stores–Fields, Wiebolts and Lytons Clothing], Baskins mens clothing, several drug stores [including Walgreens], three electronics stores, several shoe stores, a number of womens boutiques, Dominicks Foods, several small groceries, two movie theaters and probably other features I could mention. For shopping it was great ! No more, now you have to go to the Loop or shopping centers [Old Orchard had a much better variety then]. I’d easily prefer the mix we had then.

      1. Olden Days
        I agree with your comments about the unique variations of shops that the downtown area had. Now, all of those great little and big stores are gone, and it’s off to Old Orchard and Northbrook Court to park for free, and still find those types of stores. Wally Reids, Fields, Huerbingers…(greatest drugstore/burger place to hang out), clothing boutiques, Varsity, Valencia theaters, Weiboldts, and the Dominicks……long gone, but well-missed. Evanston had a certain charm about it, and that no longer exists. Some miss it…some don’t. I’m just one of the ones who wished it would remain a charming place to spend time at…..now, the sight of high-rises, parking garages, and a zillion restaurants doesn’t thrill me. Just my opinion. anyone who shopped here years ago knows what I mean.

      2. Agreed…and character

        Evanstonians, teens, kids would actually shop and linger in downtown Evanston. It was fun and interesting. Now it’s almost only NU students. I guess they want to patronize the chains? Not really, actually, as they all close down. The only “hopping” places left are the human-scale buildings with restaurants. No one, and I mean, no one wants to hang out at the bottom of a windy high rise and any restaurant underneath will not be able to keep up the high priced rent, unless the developers are giving Prairie Moon some kind of sweetheart deal. A full block of a dark high rise will be a dead zone the way Sherman is under Sherman Place, with too expensive spaces for any retail to survive. We are letting developer’s dictate our downtown. What is good for developers is good for Evanston, right?

        1. disagree, what character

          More wistful romanticizing.   You really have no idea what is happening on the very streets of your own downtown. Downtown is filled with Evanstonians, kids, teenagers, young, old, locals, north shore neighbors, more people than ever before in my 30 years here.  And yes, even NU students are now finally willing to venture into our downtown.

          The main and only reason any business here is “hopping” is because new urban development has created an environment business wants to locate into and provided residents to support those business.  Downtown is more vibrant today than at any time over the last 30 years.  Thats a simple fact, not some wistful, romanticized, “fun and interesting” version of the crumbling buildings and empty streets of our dying downtown of 30 years ago.           

      3. Key word: Then. 

        Key word: Then. 

        Those stores aren’t coming back. If you think Evanston is unique to what’s going on in the commercial real estate sector, I have a bridge to sell you. The only difference here is the city’s response to develop and leverage it’s proximity to the train (aka, why I moved here).

        As for old orchard and Northbrook Court….those are the only two malls in the area (in addition to Oak Brook) that are doing well. Many others are losing their anchor stores and are desperately trying to adjust. Retail is having a reckoning everywhere. So yes, bring on the restaurants, the mini Target, and the new residents of the TODs that will fill them. 

  6. We should be forward thinking

    We should be forward thinking and welcome new ideas that contribute to making our community a great place to live. These ideas combined with Evanston’s cultural and historical charm are what help attract and retain residents in our city. Just take a look at other cities around Chicago that have not embraced the current times and are now scrambling to combat decreases in population and younger-aged demograhics who want better dining, shopping, and entertainment options in their downtown communities. If there are no people to support local business there will be no local business. I think it’s time to stop complaining about vacant retail within downtown and give local businesses the proper resources they need to succeed…more transit-oriented shoppers.

    I like the building and I think it’ll be a great win for Evanston, After all, I’d live in it. 

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