Two Evanston aldermen who’ve often been united in opposition to development projects ended up on opposite sides during a debate Monday about a planned new office building downtown.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, said the 13-story building proposed for the city-owned parking lot at 1714-1720 Chicago Ave. is too tall for the site and doesn’t do enough to replace the existing parking.

But Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, moved for approval of the project, saying the city needs office development downtown to support the economic viability of the central business district.

She said that under existing zoning a residential structure just as tall could be built on the lot that would have a much heavier impact on traffic than the office building.

She said the proposed building is beautiful and reasonably sized for the site.

An aerial view provided by the developer, with tall buildings highlighted in yellow.

The city’s original agreement to sell the property had called for replacing the 74 public parking spaces in the what’s known as the library lot, but it didn’t specify to what extent the developer would also have to meet parking requirements for the planned office tower.

Without some concessions on the parking rules and on side yard and setback provisions that further constrain the site, the development likely would have required six parking levels in order to also deliver the office space for roughly 500 workers that city officials hope the project will generate.

‘The current plans call for four parking levels with a total of 120 spaces and nine floors of offices. One floor of the parking would be available to the public during the day, with all of the spaces available on nights and weekends.

Fiske suggested Monday it might be possible to reduce the height of the building to the 11 stories that had previously been sought by eliminating both a floor of offices and one of parking.

After floating that idea, she moved to hold Planning and Development Committee consideration of the project until the Committee’s Feb. 11 meeting. Alderman Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward, seconded her motion.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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