Vermilion Development’s proposal for what would be the tallest building in Evanston faced a lot of push back from city staff at this afternoon’s Design and Project Review Committee meeting.
Community Development Director Johanna Leonard said Vermilion is seeking eight site development allowances but provides no compensating public benefits.
She said the committee would expect to see proposals for ideas like funding for public art, creating a public park space, street repair or setting up a Divvy station, benefits beyond the increased tax revenue that come with any new building.
She said the 601 Davis St. proposal also falls far short in the area of affordable housing — offering four of its 318 apartments as on-site affordalbe units plus a $1.5 million affordable housing contribution.
By comparison Albion Residential is now proposing to set aside 15 of the 286 units at its Sherman Avenue site for affordable housing.
Another possible deal breaker is the continued presence of a Chase Bank drive-thru on the site. A Vermilion representative acknowledged the issue, but said Chase has refused to sell the lot unless a drive-thru remains on the site.
The congestion the building would create in what is already a busy alley adjacent to tower is another problem, committee members mentioned, along with a shortage of parking spots.
The overall proportions of the building including the height were not among the major issues raised by the committee although the large podium is considered by some members to be out of sync with the size of nearby buildings and overwhelming the site.
The committee scheduled a follow-up meeting for Vermilion to present revised plans on Oct. 25. That likely will postpone Plan Commission review of the project until December.