Big apartment project gets city OK

Evanston’s City Council gave final approval Monday to plans for a five-story, 214-unit apartment complex on Chicago Avenue at Kedzie Street.

Alderman Melissa Wynne, who’s 3rd Ward includes the project site at 631-749 Chicago Ave., said she was skeptical of the developer’s original plan to build 287 units there.

But she said the developer "has done an excellent job of meeting repeatedly with the community and adjusting the design in response to community concerns."

She also said the city, which had seen a boom in condominium construction in recent years would welcome the rental development, something "that we don’t have enough of these days."

Wynne proposed that the council suspend its rules to give immediate approval to the development, rather than waiting until its first January meeting to take a final vote.

The approval included a last-minute addition — an agreement by the developer to provide jobs to five Evanston residents in a job training and mentoring program during the construction process.

That measure drew praise from Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, who said he was please with the outreach efforts the head of the development team, Steve Ross, had made to the community.

Ross has assured aldermen that financing for the project is available and that work on the site will begin soon.

The project will replace an auto dealership that has already announced plans to move to Skokie and a number of partially-vacant retail shops.

In addition to standard apartment units it also includes live-work loft-style units fronting on both streets, retail space and an open plaza at the Chicago and Kedzie intersection.

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