Fourteen months after the city first started considering the sale of a downtown parking lot for the site of an office building, Evanston aldermen Monday are scheduled to get a contract to actually sell the land.

This will be the first chance for the three new members of the City Council elected in April to weigh in on the plan to turn the parking lot at 1714-18 Chicago Ave., commonly referred to as the library lot, into an 11-story office building with about 136,000 square feet of space for as many as 500 additional office-worker jobs.

The last City Council had voted 6-2 against the project in late April, but then reversed direction and approved it by a 6-2 vote at their final meeting early in May.

The development had originally been proposed as a 14-story building with 207,000 square feet of space. But after neighboring proerty owners and some aldermen balked at the height, three stories were lopped off the design.

A rendering of the Chicago Avenue streetscape with the office building added.

That also resulted in a price cut from $5 million to $4 million in the proceeds the city will receive for selling the land.

The contract gives the developer the right to back out of the deal if the city doesn’t approve zoning changes needed to build the 11-story structure.

The project is seen by city officials as a way to bring more customers to downtown retail stores and restaurants and enhance the city’s tax base.

The office vacancy rate in Evanston, which was above 10 percent earlier this decade, now has fallen to below six percent, according to the latest data from CoStar Realty Information.

Because it involves the sale of city land, the contract, which is schedule for final approval at the Sept. 25 Council meeting, will require support from two-thirds of the aldermen to pass.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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