Aldermen revive downtown office plans

A rendering of the proposed office building.

Evanston aldermen Monday night revived plans for a downtown office building that they had voted to kill off last month.

On a motion by Alderman Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward, they voted 6-1 to suspend the rules and reconsider the decision to reject plans for the proposed 11-story office building on the city-owned parking lot in the 1700 block of Chicago Avenue.

A supporter of the project, Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said she believed that discussions with adjacent property owners and the developer over the next few weeks could lead to revisions to the project that would gain it the votes required for approval.

Because of a petition against the project submitted by neighbors, a zoning change required for the development requires support of seven of the nine aldermen to be adopted.

On March 18 the project received support from five of the nine aldermen, with Suffredin, plus aldermen Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, Don Wilson, 4th Ward, and Eleanor Revelle, 7th Ward, voting no.

On Monday Revelle voted in favor of the motion to reopen discussion on the issue, without indicating whether she would support the project itself.

Wilson cast the only vote against the effort to revive the project. Wynne and Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, were absent from the meeting.

Project advocates say the development, in addition to the $4 million sale price for the parking lot, would bring in $1 million in new tax revenue annually and the several hundred office workers would generate over $2 million in additional annual revenue for downtown restaurants and retail businesses.

Opponents argue that the existing parking lot is more convenient to use than the proposed building's garage, that the building would be out of scale with adjacent historic structures and that it would create pedestrian safety concerns in the alley that separates the site from the downtown public library.

The aldermen did not set a date for any further action on the proposal.

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Comments

If this project is ultimately

If this project is ultimately rejected, the residents of the 6th and the rest of Evanston will all be saddled with higher tax bills - a sibsidy to a tiny number of downtown residents who already chose to live in the densest part of town.  

to downtown resident

The city is always trying to raise more money. The year's solution is nothing more than a temporary 'fix'. Meanwhile, Evanston is losing much of the charm which made it a special place to live years ago. Some of us wonder 'at what price'?  $1.50/hour parking, parking fees on Sunday are recent attempts to get more cash.  Perhaps it is time for all the tax=free institutions in this town to make 'voluntary' contributions . .

So charming

Losing it's charm?  I see a vital and thriving downtown, all because of development. 

I remember that so called "charming":downtown.  Literally crumbling and falling down parking garage with nothing but brick walls facing the street.

That old Osco on Sherman and Church was soo charming. As was that decrept falling down single story dirty old white building at Church and Maple, you know across from that beautiful empty parking lot.  And how I miss the empty sidewalks, the huge vacancy rate, all those empty little storefronts. Very quaint, felt like Paris. 

Why on earth would we continue on the path we have been on, streets filled with pedestrians, bustling restaurants, movie theaters, rehabbed Fountain Square.  And imagine what our tax bills would be now if we didn't have all those millions contributed by development each and every year.  We've got to stop the madness! Keep that parking lot empty!!!