Concerns about tight turning radiuses in an alley were among the issues that delayed a vote Wednesday by Evanstons Design and Project Review Committee on a planned downtown office tower.

The developers of the proposed 13-story building at 1714 Chicago Ave. have asked that the city vacate a triangular section of the alley right-of-way where the alley jogs to the west between the Evanston Public Library and Northwestern University’s McManus Center.

With the change, the alley between Church and Clark streets would remain open, but drivers would have to negotiate a considerably tighter curve than they do now to get through it.

A diagram showing the proposed changes to the alley alignment.

The developers have asked for the alley change to be able to fit more parking onto the building site — a prime goal of the city in agreeing to sell the city-owned parking lot for redevelopment.

Another concern raised about the alley was the number of people who now walk through it and how the design would impact their safety. Lara Biggs of the city’s Public Works Agency said the city generally tries to discourage pedestrian traffic in alleys.

The pay stations for parkers are located across the alley from the existing parking lot.

But the city’s decision to locate the pay stations for the parking lot across the alley on the side of the library building means that every person parking in the lot must cross the alley on foot after they park.

Whether persons parking in the new building’s garage would exit through the front of the building onto Chicago Avenue or through the alley was not mentioned at the meeting.

Various other concerns were discussed — ranging from protecting birds from hitting the building’s windows through protecting trees along the property line to the number and size of parking spaces in the building’s planned four-story garage.

The developers and city staff agreed at Wednesday’s meeting that modifications to the project’s plans to address the issues raised couldn’t be completed in time for the project to begin its review by the Plan Commission on July 25, as originally scheduled.

With no Plan Commission meeting in August, that means the project now won’t reach the Plan Commission until its Sept. 12 meeting.

It’s expected to return to the Design and Project Review Committee for further review sometime next month.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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