Evanston aldermen tonight are expected to tell city staff whether they’re ready to consider modifications to planned high-rise developments along Emerson Street themselves, or want the plans sent to the Plan Commission first.

The aldermen have approved modifications to eight  plan developments themselves in recent years, but the city’s zoning code provides an option for the Plan Commission to review such changes as well.

Although some readings of the zoning code language would suggest the return to the Plan Commission is mandatory, the city’s legal staff has concluded that it is not.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, requested that the Law Department review the code to determine whether returning the proposal to the Plan Commission was required.

The revised plan from developer Bob King of Carroll Properties and his new partner, Steven Fifield of Fifield Companies, calls for lowering the height of the planned building at 1881 Oak Ave. from 185 to 164 feet and of the planned building at 1890 Maple Ave. from 158 to 145 feet.

As part of the shift from the original condominium development plan to rental apartments, the total number of units in the project would increase from 342 to 368.

The plan achieves some of the proposed height saving by combining what had originally been proposed as two separate parking structures into a single parking deck that would span the two property lines.

Top: A rendering of the proposed new design for 1881 Oak and 1890 Maple. Above: The proposed new design for the first floor, showing the combined parking garage.

A city staff memo estimates sending the project to the plan commission would add several months to the timetable for reviewing it.

The 1881 Oak project was originally approved by the City Council in 2006. The 1890 Maple project was approved in 2009. The planned development approvals for each project are now scheduled to expire in July and October of next year if construction hasn’t begun.

The new version of the plan is expected to cost $106 million to build and to generate $1.2 million in annual property tax revenue. 

Related story

Developer revives Emerson high-rise plans

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Emerson development

    Looking at the estimated tax revenue, I see that their effective tax rate is 1.13% , whereas my property tax rate is effectively 2.17% based on estimated value. No wonder people are leaving. Do they get aid from the city as well?

  2. Value-add to Evanston?

    Per the story above – "The new version of the plan is expected to cost $106 million to build and to generate $1.2 million in annual property tax revenue"

    Let me make sure I understand this – The city of Evanston only realizes 1.2MM in additional tax revenue for these 2 buildings? Shouldn't we be expecting more for allowing such an investment that will add additional oversupply of rentals, traffic, and public utilities consumption?


  3. Plan Commission Review

    The City Zoning Code clearly requires that amendments to any planned development be reviewed by the Plan Commission, despite the City Attorney's claims to the contrary. It doesn't take a lawyer to interpret the language of the code. Section 6-3-6-12(A) of the code is entitled "New Application Required for Amendments" and reads "no amendment shall be made in the construction, development or use of a planned development without a new application under the provisions of this Ordinance." All new applications must be reviewed by the Plan Commission. Deeming this process too inconvenient, the Mayor and/or City Council have presumably instructed the City Attorney to opine that this process is not required, even though the Code clearly says that it is. The Plan Commission is the only body that affords due process to nearby property owners to be heard regarding changes to a planned development. But our City government has repeatedly demonstrated that it doesn't care about the due process rights of its citizens.

    I don't know whether this particular change will be controversial, but other changes to planned developments have drawn opposition in the recent past, and the City has ignored those views and refused to follow the proper procedures for amending planned developments.


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