Evanston could get twice as much tax revenue if condos and single family homes that meet existing zoning rules were built at Davis Street and Hinman Avenue instead of Mather Lifeways’ proposed retirement community planned development.

That’s the conclusion of an analysis by city staff prepared in response to a request from Ald. Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward.

The staff concluded that 172 condos selling on average for $350,000 could be built on the two parcels zoned R6 and that seven single family homes selling for $1 million each could be built on the two parcels zoned R1.

The memo estimated the city would get $2.2 million a year in property taxes from such a project, compared to about $1 million a year under Mather’s plan.

With existing zoning the condo buildings would be eight stories tall. Mather wants to build 309 units in two ten-story buildings, but would maintain the two R1 zoned parcels as parks.

Mather’s Mary Leary told aldermen Monday night the project would not be financially viable if even a few units were removed.

Mather presented several pages of financial data to support that position, and aldermen asked to have the data reviewed by the city’s development consultant before the Planning and Development Committee takes up the Mather issue again at a special meeting scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 31.

“We need to know what the alternatives are,” Ald. Wynne said, “Mather is asking us to grant 17 different zoning variances in a district immediately adjacent to R1. In every planned development we weigh the burdens versus the benefits.”

Ald. Cheryl Wollin, 1st Ward, said “I appreciate the memo about potential uses, but that’s not why we’re here. Our purpose is to analyze this planned development request and decide whether the owner of this property, which has been an excellent facilty for 50 years, gets to rebuild.”

Lofts win preliminary OK

The plan from 2100 Greenwood Lofts, LLC to turn an abandoned factory at that address into 26 loft-style live-work condominiums received unanimous approval from the Planning and Development Committee, which includes all nine aldermen. It’s likely to win final approval at the City Council’s Feb. 13 meeting.

Smoking ban suggested

Just before 9 p.m., as the council wrapped up what may be its shortest meeting in years, Ald. Elizabeth Tisdahl, 7th Ward, and Ald. Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, asked that the council’s Human Services Committee consider drafting a smoking ban for restaurants and bars.
Such a ban recently went into effect in Chicago, leaving Evanston’s smoking rules much less restrictive than those in its neighbor to the south.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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