Evanston’s Land Use Commission has recommended that the City Council approve plans to convert the vacant King Home at 1555 Oak Ave. into an apartment hotel.

The property was acquired in 2017 by Cameel Halim after Presbyterian Homes closed the assisted living facility it had operated there since the building was constructed in the 1950s.

Halim, who owns the Halim Time and Glass Museum across the street at 1560 Oak, initially sought to reopen the building as an assisted living facility but abandoned those plans as economically unfeasible during the pandemic.

The 67 units in the building already have partial kitchen facilities. By adding stoves the units will qualify as dwelling units under the city code and be eligible for the apartment hotel zoning classification.

No members of the public spoke either for or against the proposal during the commission meeting Wednesday night.

Alan Didesch.

Alan Didesch, an attorney for Halim, said the plan is to have up to 100% of the units for transient guests. To qualify as an apartment hotel under city rules at least 25% of the dwelling units must be rented to transient guests.

The city imposes a 7.5% tax on the gross rent on hotel rooms. Transient guests, but not longer-term occupants with leases, would be subject to the hotel tax in an apartment hotel.

Commission Chair Matt Rodgers suggested that the lack of a maximum on the share of units that could be rented to transient guests in an apartment hotel was a gap in the zoning code.

He suggested the King Home property might better qualify as a regular hotel — but in that case the property would have to be rezoned — because a regular hotel is not a permitted or special use in its current R6 zoning district, while an apartment hotel is an allowed special use there.

An aerial view of the King Home and the parking lot to the east that is part of the property. (Google Maps)

The commission voted 5-0 to recommend approval of the special use, adding a condition that the unpaved parking lot to the east of the building be paved with permeable pavers.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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3 Comments

  1. Great, more transient housing in Ward 4, right across from our brand new homeless shelter at Margarita Inn. Very considerate of these property owners buying up properties right and left, often with no vision or plans other than schemes to make more money.

    1. Hey Clark, I totally agree. How about the tenants that are being evicted from the Wirtz property transaction be given the opportunity to move there….. ONLY IF, as the woman featured in the article, paid their rent on time and respected the rules in their lease. We have enough homeless facilities.

  2. I remember working at the Orrington Hotel in 1974 as a bell hop at 16 years old. The Orrington Hotel had apartments with transits living there. They were mostly senior citizens. I feel that the conversation of Kings Home into a hotel with apartments is a good idea if they have a good plan as to operations of the hotel/transit apartments. This is a great location in providing both Northwestern & Loyola students and their family members

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