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Developers not giving up on tower

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Long-dormant plans for a 35-story residential tower on the Fountain Square block in downtown Evanston aren't dead yet.

The Evanston Review reports that members of the tower's development team have told city officials they will soon seek a three-year extension of the planned development approval the project received in 2009.

Talk of a tower on the Fountain Square block goes back at least to a 2006 proposal from developer Thomas Roszak for a 38-story tower at the south end of the block.

That concept fell apart when Roszak couldn't get control over the site.

A second plan from developer Bob Horner and his associates for a 37-story building at the south end of the block also went nowhere.

But a third plan, for the north end of the block, advanced by a team including James Klutznick and Focus Development — first discussed by aldermen in early 2007 — was eventually approved in March 2009 — after developers cut what had first been proposed as a 49-story building to 38 and then 35 stories high.

With the housing market in sharp decline by that point, the developers persuaded aldermen to give them until the end of this year to begin construction.

The request for the extra time extension will require action by the Planning and Development Committee and the full City Council.

In a sign of the recent recovery of the housing market, Focus Development, which took over the hole in the ground left by Roszak's failed Sienna condo development, last month sold the eight-story rental apartment building it built on the 1717 Ridge Ave. site for $70 million — believed to be the highest price-per-unit ever paid for a suburban Chicago rental development.

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