Despite complaints from three neighbors, Evanston aldermen Monday night backed plans for the proposed Little Green Tree House daycare center at 2812-14 Central St.
The aldermen voted to reject the Zoning Board of Appeals recommendation that the special use permit be denied. The ZBA had based its decision on limited parking available on the site and fears of traffic congestion.
But since the ZBA vote the developers have pursued efforts to lease 11 parking spaces from the Mitchell Museum, about three blocks to the west.
James Engel, co-founder of the business, said that at its existing locations in Chicago’s West Loop, Lakeview and Lincoln Park neighborhoods about 90 percent of employees walk or use public transportation to get to work.
He acknowledged that car usage by employees is likely to be somewhat higher in Evanston, but insisted the available parking should be sufficient for the 20 to 22 employees per shift.
There are nine parking spaces behind the building, whith four planned to be designated for staff and the other five for customers and visitors.
The city plans to convert five metered spaces in front of the building to be 15-minute loading zone spaces from 7 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m., the times when children typically are dropped off at and picked up from the center.
John Walsh of 2736 Hartzell St. and two other residents of side streets near the planned daycare center complained that parking is already tight on their streets and voiced fears that the new business would make that worse.
But Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, said the neighbors had opposed creating resident-only parking restrictions on their streets that could address the problem.
Scott Gendell of developer Terraco, Inc., the building’s owner, said 30 percent of the commercial buildings along that stretch of Central Street are now vacant, and the area needs new businesses like the daycare center.
And Tendam said other businesses in the area now are struggling, and the daycare center could bring new customers to them.
Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, said she’s convinced there is demand for the daycare service in the area — that a lot of new families with young children have been moving into her neighborhood.
While the vote to introduce the special use proposal was unanimous, the plan still needs final approval at an upcoming City Council meeting.
Daycare center planned on Central Street (5/13/15)