The City Council Monday unanimously approved a special use request from the New Hope CME Church to construct a new church building at 2004-2010 Emerson Street.

A sketch of the proposed church building as viewed from Emerson Street

The council rejected a staff recommendation to deny the request and supported the recommendation of the Zoning Board of Appeals to approve the proposal.

Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, noted that while the project, because of its relatively small lot, provides only half of the 20 parking spaces normally be required, the existing church building nearby at 1840 Grey Ave. has no parking at all, so the plan provides a net increase of 10 spaces.

Alderman Elizabeth Tisdahl, 7th Ward, said she supports the project because the new building would be more attractive than the current church building, and it wouldn’t add to parking problems.

Community Development Director James Wolinski said that in addition to the parking the staff was concerned about the use of modular cementitious panels for the church exterior. He said the panels had been used on an affordable housing project at 1816 Darrow and resemble vinyl siding.

The church’s architect, James Torvik of 212 Dempster St., said the grey modular panels would be bolted onto the building substructure. “It’s a long-lasting, well-wearing material,” Mr. Torvik said.

“We could talk all night long about the appearance,” he said, “it’s a matter of taste. I’m going to make the very best out of this building that we possibly can.”

The church’s minister, the Rev. Linda A. Jordan, said most church members live in the area and won’t need to drive to the church.

The new church site at Emerson and Hovland Court has been vacant for many years, she said, “We want to expand so we can accommodate the things we want to do for the community, including providing a computer lab and a safe place for children to play before and after school.”

Rev. Jordan said the church has sold other property it owned at 2027 Church St., returning that land to the tax rolls and also plans to sell the old church site to private investors so that will go back on the tax rolls as well. She said she anticipates that whatever is done with the other properties will help with redevelopment and beautification of the community.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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