A city panel voted today not to recommend approval of Vermilion Development’s proposal to build what would be Evanston’s tallest building at 601 Davis St.

DAPR committee members

That gives the project an uphill struggle to get approved by the Plan commission and City Council. The committee asked for revisions to the plans at a meeting two weeks ago, but members said too many issues remained unresolved today to get their backing.

After a unanimous no vote, Vermilion’s president, David Cocagne, said,  “We appreciate their feedback. We will try to address what we can and we look forward to the next step in the process.”

Vermilion’s David Cocagne, in yellow tie, listens as committee members discuss his project.

DAPR Committee member Paul Zalmezak said the glaring issue remains the drive-thru for Chase bank. Committee members worry the drive-thru will cause a dangerous situation for cyclists and pedestrians on a busy street that will just get busier with an influx of new residents.

Cocagne says there’s little they can do about the drive-thru. Chase made it a condition of sale of the lot that a drive-thru bank remain at the location.

Zalmezak says it’s frustrating. The city has a $6 million deficit and this development would yield more than $1 million a year in property taxes. He added that what Vermilion proposes is certainly better than what is there currently, but said the challenge for the committee and the city is to determine what would best for residents in the long term.

The drive-thru wasn’t the only issue, though it was the deal-breaker. Other concerns include the aesthetics of the design, a lack of affordable housing on site, and minimal public benefits beyond what’s required from new developments.

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