Evanston aldermen are scheduled to review the proposed Church Street Village townhouse project when they meet as the Planning and Development Committee Monday night.

Revised drawing of the Church Street Village project submitted to the Plan Commission on Feb. 8. (Cyrust-Hines, LLC image)

The proposal won unanimous support from the Plan Commission Feb. 8 after the developers reworked the design to respond to concerns commissioners raised at the first hearing on the project three weeks earlier.

The revisions cut the number of units at the former Hines lumber yard at 1613 Church St. from 42 to 41, consolidate the project from eight buildings to three and create a new courtyard in the center of the site.

The new design also provides more variety in the appearance of the units, with some set back further from the street than others.

“I am very much in favor of the revised plan,” Plan Commissioner Alice Rebechini said, “I think the developer has responded very well to the residential scale and feeling issues that we brought up in our last session.”

Several residents living east of the development site turned out to oppose it.

James Majeski of 1525 Davis St., said the project would detract from rather than enhance the character of the surrounding neighborhood.

“We want a solution that’s affordable, but not imposing,” Mr. Majeski said, “with less density and a setback from Church Street that matches the average of the neighboring residential properties.”

Developer Walter Kihm of Cyrus Homes has said the 1,800 to 2,200 square foot, two- and three-bedroom units will sell for between $360,000 and $420,000.

Stephanie Summers of 1571 Wesley Ave. said that is relatively high-income housing and would have an adverse impact on the tax rate for the more modest housing west of the site.

“These high density projects create tax pressure that displaces low-income people,” Ms. Summers said.

Plan Commissioner Lawrence Widmayer said, “Lower density and lower price – though these are honorable goals, they’re not compatible.”

“I own a piece of single-family property in the same area,” Mr. Widmayer said, adding that based on his tax bill, he concluded single family homes built on the Hines site would end up costing $600,000 to $700,000, and that they’d likely be difficult to sell with the Onyx garbage transfer station next door.

Despite testimony from the developer’s traffic consultant, who said the project would create less traffic than the old lumber yard did, Lisa Dallbauman of 1740 Ashland Ave. said the high-density project would adversely affect neighborhood traffic.

“Church between Asbury and Dodge is extremely busy,” she said, “especially during the morning rush hour.”

After the hearing, Plan Commission Chairman Albert Hunter met informally with the neighbors and suggested that if they wanted to argue before the City Council that the project is harmful to low-income people living west of the site, it would help to include some residents from that area in their group.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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