Plans for an 80-unit rental apartment complex on the former Evanston Theatre site won initial approval from aldermen Monday night.
Aldermen Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, and Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, voted against the proposal in the Planning and Development Committee, but the project was approved unanimously as a consent agenda item at the full City Council meeting.
The project, at 1700-1722 Central St., was initially approved in 2007 as a four-story, 51-unit condominium development, but it never broke ground after the recession devastated the market for condos.
Developer Bob Horne of Dodge Capital LLC says the condo market is still dead, but it’s now possible to get financing for rental projects. The new design increased the number of units and reduces the amount of parking while staying within essentially the same footprint previously approved for the project.
A diagram of the second floor of The Eastwood, showing a partial green roof over the rear garage.
Fiske said she was concerned that, as a rental development, the project, dubbed The Eastwood, would attract more student tenants, and that, in turn, would mean more turnover and congestion in the area at move-in time.
She added that she’s inclined to support the project, but believed it should be reviewed again by the Plan Commission before coming to the City Council
Wynne said she believed, based on experience in her ward, that the roughly one-space-per-unit parking ratio for the project is insufficient.
But Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said the city should not continue to require more and more parking in buildings, because it encourages the over-use of cars.
Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said he believes apartments are an appropriate use in the area, because it’s well served by mass transit.
Claire and John Labbe.
Some neighbors of the site, including Claire and John Labbe of 1727 Harrison St., objected to the use of Hardie Board on some exterior surfaces in the new plan, and noted that the previous condo proposal had called for an all-brick facade, while only parts of the new design would be brick-clad.
But Wilson said that because the new plan calls for rentals, it would unrealistic to expect that the finishes would be as high class as it could have been as condos.
Final approval of the project still requires another City Council vote, which is scheduled for its Oct. 10 meeting.