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Carroll Place inches toward decision

The City Council introduced an ordinance to approve the 18-story Carroll Place condo development in Research Park Monday, but referred it back to committee for further discussion.

The project continued to draw sharply differing views from neighbors at Monday’s Planning and Development Committee meeting.

Jane Wicklund, who lives two blocks south at 1720 Maple Ave. in the 28-story Optima Views building, said Carroll Place would be “completely out of character with the rest of the neighborhood.” She also said she fears there’s a glut of condominium apartments in the city.

The Rev. Oscar Crear of Ebenezer A.M.E. Church, across the street from the site, said he would much prefer the propose new building to the vacant lot that is there now.

He said the new building will bring new life and new residents to the block.

Leon Robinson of 1713 Lyons St., who owns several properties on Garnett Place, said he favors the project, but another Garnett property owner was adamant in her opposition to it.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said she planned to vote for the project, but she criticized a consultant to the developer for portraying the area to the north of the site as being stagnant and unattractive.

Two weeks ago the aldermen voted unanimously to reject recommendations from the Plan Commission and city staff to turn down the Carroll Place proposal and ordered the legal staff to draft an ordinance that would approve it.

The Plan Commission and city staff argued that the development, called Carroll Place, is too tall and bulky for the site.

The project has been redesigned twice since it was first unveiled last fall, with the latest redesign by a new architectural firm.

The 165-unit project now includes 247 parking spaces inside the building and 1,370 square feet of retail space in a building 185 feet high. The initial plan had called for only one parking space per unit.

The developer last week agreed to make a $1,000 per unit contribution to the city’s affordable housing fund, to contribute $35,000 either for job training programs or to repaint the Metra viaduct at Emerson and Ridge, and to employ 20 Evanston residents in building the project.

Existing zoning for the property, on the southeast corner of Emerson and Oak, limits buildings to 85 feet. The site has been vacant for about two decades and office building on either side of it in the Research Park development have extremely high vacancy rates.

The aldermen were also scheduled to discuss the proposed redevelopment of the Kendall College site on Orrington Avenue at Colfax Street Monday night, but ran out of time and decided to take it up at a special meeting next month.

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