City staff at a Design and Project Review Committee meeting this afternoon urged the developer of the proposed 1555 Ridge apartment building to include apartment units on the building’s ground floor.

That, Community Development Director Johanna Leonard said, would create a more active ground floor and a more pedestrian-friendly environment.

While the current plans for the building include a rental office and exercise room space on the ground floor, but bulk of the ground level is devoted to garage parking.

Leonard said other developers — including at 1717 Ridge and the E2 development on Emerson Street — have provided residential uses on the ground floor — something she said the City Council prefers.

She suggested that the developer might add lifts in the garage so cars could be stacked on to of each other to make more room.

Jay Keller.

Developer Thomas Meador and architect Jay Keller spent about a half hour responding to questions from staff and promised to return to another DAPR meeting in two weeks where they hope to receive approval for the 68-unit development to move forward to a Plan Commission hearing in late February.

The plans for the project will also be impacted by City Council action expected Monday on a proposal to modify setback requirements for planned developments in residential districts.

The 1555 Ridge proposal seeks a smaller setback from its north property line than would be permitted under the existing rules.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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