Within a couple of years Evanston residents will find out whether some people really are willing to walk two blocks to their apartments after parking their cars.

The City Council Monday night approved on a 6-1 vote plans for a 12-story, 101-unit apartment building at 1571 Maple Ave. that will have most of its parking located two blocks north at the city’s Maple Avenue garage.

Despite continued claims from some that the parking solution wouldn’t work, aldermen approved the project — persuaded that, with its location adjacent to the city’s two downtown rail stations, many residents would commute to work by train and either not have cars or would use them only rarely.

The $103,020 a year the developer will pay for 101 parking spaces in 1,400-space garage — which city officials say now is half empty — may have helped persuade aldermen of the merits of the plan.

But it was the developer’s agreement to provide two units of subsidized housing in the project and contribute $400,000 to the city’s affordable housing fund that appeared to help seal the deal — with Alderman Don Wilson, whose 4th Ward includes the site, saying that offer was “pretty extraordinary.”

Wilson said he saw the off-site parking solution as an experiment — and a way to design a building that would minimize the negative impact on the neighbors that would have resulted from having a large parking deck at the base of the buiding.

The only vote against the project came from Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, who says the plan doesn’t provide sufficient parking.

Aldermen Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, and Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, were absent from the meeting.

Related stories

Developers to pay for subsidized housing (4/13/15)

Developers: Projects have parking to spare (4/13/15)

Aldermen squeeze developer for housing subsidies (3/24/15)

Maple high-rise project advances (3/10/15)

One Evanston owners complain of views they’d lose (1/18/15)

Plan Commission OKs 1571 Maple high rise (1/14/15)

Developer: Design minimizes impact on neighbors (9/6/14)

Condo buyers — about that view … (10/3/14)

Maple project to gain height, separation from neighbor (9/26/14)

Former funeral home site to see new life (9/12/14)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Which experiment comes first?

    As I understand it, the apartment building at Main and Chicago where construction is *already underway*, will represent the same "experiment." Why experiment with two buildings until the result of one experiment is carefully evaluated? If I remember correctly, this development will also lack sufficient on site parking and will also require residents with cars to walk two blocks to a city lot. For those not familiar with this area, it is already densely populated with apartments and condos galore with nearby on street parking at a premium and other nearby parking lots having significant waiting lists. Here's my question: if potential residents don't flock to these off site parking apartments, who foots the bill for the lost revenue? The construction company? The city? The tenant?

    1. Lost revenue

      Under the terms of the deal with the city, the developer has to pay for all 101 parking spaces for the first several years. After that if the developer can demonstrate that the building's residents have fewer cars registered to them than that — then they can renegotiate with the city the number of parking spaces to be leased.

      Of course, were it to turn out that, because of the distance to parking, the developer couldn't lease units in the building at any price sufficient to cover their costs, you can imagine a scenario under which the project could go bankrupt, and that hypothetically could lead to all sorts of nightmare scenarios … including tumbleweeds rolling down Elmwood Avenue.

      — Bill

    2. lost revenue?

      The developer carries the risk, City carries little to no risk, taxpayers simply win. Occupancy rates are high in Evanston and urban lifestyles are and will continue to be more and more prominent. 

      These buildings will contribute r.e. taxes to the tune of a couple million every year, which helps the City and brings relief to every single taxpayer. Greatly helps both school districts, especially since those buildings will funnel very few if any children into the school system.

      If the tenants have no need of City parking spots, the City may realize a little less parking revenue. But that possible small shortfall is more than offset by the millions paid in annual r.e. taxes. 

  2. Maple Ave. apartment building
    Council never met a new high rise plan it didn’t like, regardless of the lack of appropriateness of the site proposal. I walked by the site and wondered how such a building would fit on the smallish lot. I feel empathy for the residents in the building to the south who have balconies on the north side. They will be sitting in the shadow of the new building and peering into their new neighbors’ apartments or balconies. Re parking, I and friends have noticed a marked increase in Evanston traffic in the last several years,which we attribite to the plethora of new high rises. This increase in residents has given property owners no tax relief and they just keep. rising.

    1. no tax relief, really?

      Funny, I walk by that lot daily and think there isn't a bigger, better, empty lot in downtown for this type of development. I guess it's nothing more than personal opinions on that score. But stating no tax relief for all residents means either a complete lack of understanding how r.e. taxes are assessed or one is simply challenged in applying basic math skills. Either way, on the r.e. tax relief topic there is no personal opinion, only fact. And you are factually incorrect by millions of dollars, each and every year.

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