The Autobarn Nissan building at 1012 Chicago Ave. in a 2019 image from Google Maps.

A developer has submitted plans to the city to build a five-story apartment building on the site of the Autobarn Nissan dealership at 1012 Chicago Ave. in Evanston.

Alderman Melissa Wynne told residents at a 3rd Ward meeting Thursday evening that the request for a zoning analysis for the project had been submitted earlier this week.

Ideas for redeveloping part or all of that block on the west side of Chicago Avenue were first broached in March 2019 and were the subject of public meetings that March and April.

At that time, the plans were portrayed as a cooperative effort between Autobarn owner Richard Fisher and Oscar Tatosian of Oscar Isberian Rugs to redevelop both the auto dealership property and the rug store property just to the north.

But Wynne in her comments Thursday night indicated that only the Autobarn Nissan property is included in the new development.

Wynne said, “I’m excited about it. Developing the west side of Chicago avenue is a challenge because it’s up against the railroad tracks. But new ways of construction can make it sound proof.”

She said the project would also provide the opportunity to make the Chicago Avenue streetscape more pedestrian friendly and provide wider sidewalks.

She said the plans call for live-work units on the ground floor of the new building along with a small amount of retail space.

She said she’s explained to the developers, “We really need to have live-work unit pricing meet the market. If we’re hoping to have artists and creatives, those units need to be pitched at the right rent to fill the spaces.”

In response to a question, the alderman said she’s “happy that we’re not having to fight off a 10 or 12 story building here.”

“What they’re looking for in zoning variations is relatively minor — I don’t think there’s a need to call out the troops” to oppose it, she added.

The project is expected to get a hearing before the city’s Design and Project Review Committee in the middle of May, Wynne said, and it’s likely to reach the Plan Commission in June or July and that the earliest it could reach the City Council would be in September.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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