A rendering of the proposed townhome development looking west from Green Bay Road.

Plans to bring new life and new taxpaying residents to what is now an abandoned railroad abutment are being delayed at the developer’s request, while he considers some possible changes to the project.

John Cleary, of Temp Capital, recently pulled the proposal from the Land Use Commission agenda as he looks into potentially adding more affordable units to the plan.

As it stands now, the Wesley Court development, between Green Bay Road and Jackson Avenue, would have 19 townhomes, and a 12-unit apartment building.

Three of the apartments would be “affordable,” or below market rate rental. Or, there could be one such unit, with the developer also building an affordable house nearby.

The owner-occupied townhomes would go for around $575,000 each.

But Cleary now says “our project is starting to get bigger,” with the possibility of including additional affordable units. Specific numbers, and whether the project’s footprint will change beyond the current two acres of land, are not yet available.

Cleary, who lives near the proposed site, says he’s been working on the plan for three years, and is “anxious to move forward.”

While building new housing on a site which currently has minimal value could be a plus for the city, adding more affordable housing might also see the plan get more favorable response from City Council.

Affordable housing, Cleary notes, is “the biggest issue in the city.”

Elizabeth Williams, the city’s Planning Director, says no formal changes have yet been submitted.

The Land Use Commission, she says, will consider a further time extension when it meets on Oct. 12.

If changes do come in at some point, Williams says city staff will need to review the new plan to see if it complies with the zoning code, as well as allow for public comment before any final decisions are made.

The Land Use Commission makes a recommendation to Council, which has the last word.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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