Alderman Robin Rue Simmons told residents at her 5th Ward meeting Wednesday night that she plans to seek downzoning of areas along Emerson Street in the ward.

A city map showing the current zoning along Emerson Street from Dodge Avenue to Green Bay Road.

Some residents urged her to seek rezoning of the entire Emerson corridor, from McCormick Boulevard east to Green Bay Road, but much of the focus of concern was the block bounded by Emerson and Foster streets and Wesley and Jackson avenues.

That block includes seven parcels that were proposed last fall as the site for a new five-story residential development with a total of 44 units in two buildings.

Yellow overlay shows the planned development sites (Google Maps)

Developer John Domanus submitted a revised version of those plans to the city last winter adding two more parcels on Emerson and switching the project from condos to rental units. But he withdrew his plans after angry neighbors attacked the proposal at a Design and Project Review Committee meeting in March.

That left the owner of most of the properties Domanus had planned to buy, Victoria Kathrein of Lee Street Management, with mostly vacant apartment units, and she appeared at Wednesday’s ward meeting along with her real estate broker, Richard Aronson, to get feedback from residents about what sort of development they might support.

Victoria Kathrein.

The general tone of comments seemed to suggest that the neighbors at the meeting would only be interested in developments no more than three stories tall, and that while they might prefer single family homes or townhomes, they could be OK with small apartment buildings, at least on the properties that face Emerson.

Rue Simmons said she would make a referral at next Monday’s City Council meeting requesting that the Plan Commission consider the proposed rezoning.

That would launch a process that could take from several months to over a year before culminating in a City Council vote on whether to actually make any zoning changes.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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