Evanston aldermen voted 5-4 tonight to reject the Darrow Corners affordable housing development.

The project proposed by the Housing Opportunity Development Corporation would have built 27 units of rent-to-own housing on the site at the northwest corner of Church Street and Darrow Avenue.

Alderman Elizabeth Tisdahl, 7th Ward, and other opponents of the proposal said it didn’t match the goals set for the area in a recently adopted neighborhood plan.

But Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, said, “This has nothing to do with plans, this is about poor people.”

He compared the complaints of opponents to a law suit that argued that poor people constitute an environmental hazard.

“We say we support affordable housing,” Ald. Jean-Baptiste said, “but when have you guys done anything for Church and Dodge. Nothing’s ever been done there.”

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said, “Home ownership – to me that’s the weakest piece of this whole project.” Fifteen years is too long to wait; the chance for ownership is too speculative, she said.

“I don’t believe this is the right project. I don’t believe the community should jump at the very first financing scheme that comes along to build something on this corner, Ald. Rainey said.

Alderman Edmund Moran, 6th Ward, supported the plan, saying it offered hope after many years of waiting for new development on the west side.

“I reject the notion of some opponents that renters cannot be stakeholders in the community,” Ald. Moran said.

“This lot has been empty for at least 30 years,” he said, “People say they are not satisfied with this proposal. But should we continue to look at this empty, contaminated lot?”

Ald. Moran said the developers had compromised with neighbors and come up with good alterations that make sense, but also stood their ground where they had to because of financing requirements.

The project previously had been rejected by the Evanston Plan Commission and was the subject of several meetings by a Planning and Development subcommittee in an effort to work out a compromise between the developer and neighborhood opponents of the project.

Carlis Sutton, head of the neighborhood group opposing the project, told aldermen the neighbors wanted to have at least one third of the units available for ownership immediately, sufficient on-site parking to meet zoning code standards, a height reduction from four to three stories and more ground level commercial space.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Affordable Housing Rejected, More from the Daily
    The Daily Northwestern has more: Housing Proposal Rejected

    Carlis Sutton, who opposed the plan, said… “(It) is way out of scale with anything in our community.”

    Other than ETHS.

    Ald. Lionel Jean-Baptiste (2nd)… (said) “If this was about a rich… development going up here, you would support it.”

    This hits the nail on the head. One of the main issues was “whether the condos should be owned or rented.” In other words, if people have the savings and credit score to own now, this plan would be okay.

    Sutton… called Jean-Baptiste’s statement “idiotic” and “repulsive.”

    Be nice.

  2. church/darrow
    vito brugliera
    Re the Church/Darrow project.

    What is with the council members? There are other issues here besides the desireability of affordable housing. What about the projected costs? These are word of mouth numbers — I would love to see hard numbers.

    The square footage total of the four storey structure is 40,000. Assuming that the 1st floor is devoted to parking, community room, library, gang hangout, etc. — that leaves 3 floors for 27 units or 9 units per floor average. The net usable square feet available for apartments on the three floors is estimated to be 24,600.

    The land cost is estimated at $850,000.

    With the total estimated at $9,414,000 that leaves $8,564,000 for the structure and costs other than land.

    Thus on a per square foot basis that is

    $8564000/24600 = $348.13 per sq ft!

    If you include the land cost

    $9414000/24600 = $ 382.68 per sq ft

    With 24,600 sq ft and 27 units the average size is 911 sq ft

    911 x $382.68 gives a total cost of $348,664 on average per unit!!!!

    I understand the Hines development has projected costs of $130 per sq ft.

    You can buy fancy condos in the heart of downtown Evanston for $260 per sq ft.

    I have a hard time comprehending these costs… should we hire Donald Trump?

    Somebody is making money.

    Who are the investors in the tax credit portion of the investment?

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