Plans for a new 97-foot tall mixed-use building on the southeast corner of Main Street and Chicago Avenue are heading to Evanston’s Plan Commission after winning approval from a city staff panel Wednesday.

The project, originally envisioned as a retail and office development, morphed into a primarily residential rental project with one floor of offices and some ground-level retail after the developers were unable to find enough tenants for all the proposed office space.

At Wednesday’s Site Plan and Appearance Review Committee meeting the committee approved a compromise solution for access to parking for the retail tenants.

At a meeting last month city staff had argued that all access to the parking should be from the alley behind the building.

Developers John O’Donnell and Jeff Clark.

But the developers, after conferring with brokers they’d hired to lease the retail space, argued that they wouldn’t be able to get the desirable national fast casual restaurant chain tenants they wanted if there wasn’t at least some access to the parking from Chicago Avenue.

Under the compromise solution, instead of being able to enter and leave the parking area from Chicago Avenue, drivers would have to enter from the alley, but would be able to exit onto Chicago Avenue, but only if they were turning right.

The committee also reviews samples of brick, stone and glass materials planned for use on the building.

A rendering of the Chicago Avenue face of the building presented to the committee Wednesday.

The Plan Commission will have to review several planned development allowances sought for the project.

The proposal calls for 112 dwelling units, where 87 would be allowed by right. And it seeks a building height of 97 feet, almost a third more than what’s allowed by right.

It also provides only 104 parking spaces, compared to the 216 normally required.

The developers have argued that because the project is adjacent to both CTA and Metra stations, that most tenants won’t need parking spaces.

The project is expected to be on the Plan Commission’s Feb. 12 agenda.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. More developer stories

    Despite the lie the developers tell themselves, people who ride public transportation still own vehicles. There should NEVER be a variance in parking as the lack of parking will always affect the neighborhood more than the development of another (ugly) building. 



  2. Another one?

    Is this the best we can come up with? Leave the space empty, then. I understand the tax issues, but still. The drawing available with the article shows yet another drab, boxy building. And how is the neighborhood going to manage the influx of new residents? Lincoln and Nichols schools are already maxed out, and that's even after Lincoln was remodeled and expanded, in no small part, I expect, because of the AMLI buildling. And a "national fast casual restaurant?" We don't need one. We have a lot of great restaurants in the neighborhood. And then there's the parking… half the required spaces? Let's see what happens next snowstorm.

  3. Main & Chicago Proposed Building

    Did I read this article incorrectly? Are the developers actually coming in with a 112 unit building where 87 is the limit? A height of 97 feet where the rule stipulates a limit of 1/3 less height than that? 104 parking spaces where the requirement is 216? How many others out there feel like Alice in Wonderland trying to comprehend the absurdity of what is proposed here? Are regulations only for the "little people" and not applicable to the big shots? And, by the way…that proposed rendering is UGLY. Is there an appearance review board anywhere around who can at least TRY to look like they're showing concern for our neighborhood?

  4. Chicago / Main Project

    I grew up in that neighborhood and currently live nearby… I agree with the previous comments – this proposal is an abomination – Is this the best they've got?  They want to attract "a national fast casual restaurant"…  do you mean McDonalds?  Very limited parking accessed by the alley and exiting on the already overtaxed traffic Chicago Ave – Double YIKES…

    What a shame that with all the resources in our community that others with more imagination can't be found – how about a (sensible) design competition for use within the current zoning plan? If we can't manage that, let's keep it a green space – that'd certainly be better than another brick and glass monstrosity disrupting the neighborhood.

    Thinking back to "The Main"… that building/development had great character and attracted interesting and diverse businesses… Does any one remember Amazing Grace, Travel in the Main… etc.? 

    I hope the Planning Commission can show the residents of SE Evanston some amaing grace and just say NO Thanks!

    Respectfully, Brian G. Becharas

  5. Parking

    The developers idea regarding parking is stupid.  I live in the area and parking is maxed out.  People who can afford buildings like 900 Chicago and 515 Main can afford a car (or two).

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