Evanston aldermen this evening will be asked to approve giving the developer of a proposed apartment complex on Chicago Avenue price break of about 15 percent on city-owned land needed for the project.

Evanston aldermen this evening will be asked to approve giving the developer of a proposed apartment complex on Chicago Avenue price break of about 15 percent on city-owned land needed for the project.

The developer, AMLI Residential, agreed in 2008 to pay the city $900,000 for the lot in the 700 block of Chicago Avenue that then was leased to an adjacent auto dealer for parking space. Except for the parking lot, the parcels are now controlled by AMLI.

That year the city approved a planned development for several parcels along Chicago Avenue south of Kedzie Street under which AMLI would construct 214 apartment units.

The project would replace two now-vacant former auto dealer properites and a now-vacant 1920s vintage commercial building that previously housed a Salvation Army resale shop and other businesses.

The proposed new price for the city owned parcel — $770,085 — is described by city officials as at the high end of the estimated values for the land identified by a city-hired appraiser earlier this year.

AMLI officials had said at the time the development was initially approved that their financing was secure and they were prepared to move forward with the project, but the downturn in the real estate market has stalled the project.

City officials now say AMLI hopes to start construction by the end of this year, with completion by the middle of 2013.

There was no indication in a staff memo discussing the new proposal of why the city an AMLI didn’t go through with the sale of the land in 2008, when the purchase agreement was first approved.

Aldermen had voted to include a provision in the original agreement that would have let the city reclaim the property if the developer didn’t go through with construction of the complex.

Above: A rendering from 2008 of proposed live-work units in the development that would face Chicago Avenue.

Related stories

City OKs land sale for development (Sept. 24, 2008)

Rental project draws no foes (Aug. 14, 2008)

Plan board OKs apartment project (Oct. 16, 2008)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Evanston City Council drops the ball again

    The Evanston City Council agrees in 2008 to a $900,000 contract price to sell the land to a multi-billion real estate corporate fund managed by Stanley Morgan and approves the development, and now three years later AMLI executives come back and asks for a price reduction!!!!!!

    Did the City of Evanston sit on this property all this time? Was there no provision in the contract with a deadline to close on the property and to construct the building?

    Imagine if you sell your home, go under contract, and without closing on the home the buyer comes back THREE YEARS LATER and asks for a 15 price reduction because the real estate market has declined.

    Once again, Evanston elected officials have dropped the ball and will cost taxpayers more money for this apparent fiscal negligence.

    There seems to be a pattern. The city had bought 1817 Church years ago for $175,000 and then gave it to a non-profit group along with a $200,000 grant to build a museum. About seven years later, the city checked on the building and discovered it was in poor shape, and there was no museum and the money was long gone. Now the Evanston Council is looking for someone else to give the building to rather than putting it on the open market and selling it.

    The City Council should have made sure it closed the sale with AMLI in 2008 when the contract was approved.

    Isn't it ironic that the City Council in 2008 voted itself a 20 percent pay raise? Now it seems some of these council members want to get a pension as well.

  2. Background on this?


    Does the city own all of the land that the development will occupy, or just part of it?  If part of it, which part and how did the City come to own it? 



    1. Just the parking lot

      DP …

      The city only owns the parking lot — not the other parcels involved in the planned developmetn.

      Don't know how the city acquired the lot.


  3. why not parking?

    If the City owns this and has for years and probably paid next to nothing by current standards, why not a parking lot for an area that is desperate for off-street parking? This would be perfect for double stickers: one for day time commuters, one for night-time area residents. And anyone who wanted to buy both could. The southeast part of town has been desperate for parking for forever and still needs more.

    The City Manager and Council are looking for quick cash and not thinking long-term. He's also rumored to be thinking about selling off the Noyes Cultural Arts Center and the Chandler-Newberger facility on Central. All for quick cash.


    1. parking

      I'm sorry – but I respectfully disagree.  There is more than ample parking in SE Evanston.  The perennially undersold South/Hinman city lot (currently 30 vacancies), and the fact that I don't even use my garage because I can always find a spot in front of my house are proof.  Parking does not drive foot traffic, nor does it generate substantial revenue.  The stretch of Chicago Ave from the Firehouse Grill to Walgreens needs retail, dining, housing and everything except parking.  You could have 300 cars paying sticker fees at $100 a pop and you would only generate $30000 a year in revenue.  And there won't be 300 cars, and stickers don't cost $100.

  4. Developer

    Chicago Ave certainly doesn't need another project with no green space! With all the empty units now, parking seems like a better use.

  5. AMLI Project

    This deal includes 3 different property owners.  The property that the City of Evanston owns is the parcel between the old Subaru dealership and the strip mall that includes Walgreens.  McKay owns the 2 automobile buildings that previously housed Nissan and Subaru dealerships.  The third parcel is in receivership which houses the old salvation army space, as well as the other empty storefronts. 

  6. AMLI is everywhere

    I lose track of the number of projects AMLI has underway across the country. It is starting a new residential high rise in River North soon. Every once in a while I read about how some pension fund or other has invested $300,000,000 or the like in AMLI.

    I will be interested in seeing how the City negotiates with AMLI in this matter. $135,000 seems like a significant loss. But, it may still be a worthwhile opportunity cost. The building proposed, but the way, has a big notch cut out of its northwestern corner, forming a large plaza with Kedzie and Chicago. It will be a combination of green and hard-surface. That corner will never look the same dismal way again, if AMLI goes through with its project.

Leave a comment
The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *