The vacant city-owned lot at Church and Darrow. (Google Maps image.)

Evanston’s Economic Development Committee Thursday evening recommend the City Council direct staff to issue a request for proposals to redevelop the northwest corner of Church Street and Darrow Avenue.

The long-vacant gas station property on the corner and two now-vacant lots to the north that formerly held two-flat homes total about 17,000 square feet. The city acquired the gas station site this spring and has owned the two other lots for about a decade.

The request for proposals, set to be issued Jan. 14, assuming City Council approves, invites concepts for a mixed-use building with commercial use on the first floor and anticipates residential use on the upper floors.

The RFP also encourages applicants to consider whether to include a vacant lot just west of the site owned by Mt. Pisgah Pentecostal Faith Church in the development plans.

It outlines a two-step process in which would-be developers would first submit evidence of their qualifications to build a development on the site. Those capabilities would be reviewed by city staff and members of the Economic Development Committee, and then the highest-scoring developers would be asked to submit detailed proposals for what to build on the site.

In 2006 the City Council voted 5-4 to reject plans to build 27-units of rent-to-own affordable housing on the site in a four-story building.

One supporter of the project, Alderman Eb Moran, 6th Ward, said at the time that the gas station site had already been vacant for 30 years. But an opponent, Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said the city shouldn’t jump at the first proposal for the property that came along.

Related stories

Senior housing suggested as new use for vacant lot (7/20/19)

City to acquire potential affordable housing site (4/27/19)

Evanston wants to buy abandoned gas station site (6/11/12)

City considers buying failed development site (6/14/10)

Neighbors review Church-Dodge plan (10/13/06)

Aldermen reject affordable housing plan (5/22/06)

Aldermen get affordable housing hot potato (3/26/06)

Plan Commission gives thumbs down to Darrow Corners (3/9/06)

Darrow Corners plan draws fire from neighboring developer (1/26/06)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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