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Dobson-Ridge plan still over zoning limit

After three meetings with neighbors, a developer presented revised plans for a condo project on the northwest corner of Dobson Street and Ridge Avenue to the city’s planning staff Wednesday.


Revised condo plan, showing Dobson frontage.

The latest plan cuts the height of the building to five stories from six and reduces the number of units to 33 from 38.


The original six-story proposal.

But Assistant Community Development Director Carolyn Brzezinski said that’s still 11 units more than the R5 zoning for the site allows.

To get the additional units as part of a planned development, Ms. Brzezinski said, a developer would need to provide “pretty significant give-backs to the city – and we haven’t heard anything yet.”

She suggested that various contributions are possible – ranging from participation in the city’s planned inclusionary housing program to contributions for public art.

“But quite honestly, I don’t know what would justify the sort of increase you’re asking for,” Ms. Brzezinski said.


Three rental apartment buildings, each with six units, are on the site now. Paying the city’s new tear-down tax will add $54,000 to the project cost.

The developer’s architect, Robert Kirk of Group A Architects of Arlington Heights, told the Site Plan and Appearance Review Committee that the overall size of the building is very close to conforming to the zoning rules. He argued that the additional units shouldn’t be an issue, because the project includes sufficient parking for the full number of units.

“To make the project economically feasible we have to have that number of units,” Mr. Kirk said.

“What I would say is build according to what’s allowed,” Ms. Brezinski said, “We hear from a lot of developers about wanting to exceed the requirements. The way to offset that is to offer something irresistable, so that’s what you need to think about.”

She said she thought the developer’s plan to put one level of parking underground was “very valuable” given how unpopular parking “boxes with housing sitting on top” have become in Evanston.

She also said the revised site plan, which eliminates the original plan’s circular drive in front of the building, “creates a great opportunity for landscaping the site.”

Mr. Kirk said the project will have its main pedestrian entrance on Dobson Street, but that cars will enter the garage from the alley. A total of 45 parking speces would be located on the first floor and a basement level.


Just across the alley west of the project site, Dobson Street is zoned R2, and is filled with one and two story single-family homes that are part of the Oakton Historic District.

He said the latest design moves the building a few feet closer to the Ridge Avenue side of the property to provide more separation between the new buildings and the single-family homes across the alley.

He said the new design calls for using dark brown brick, like that used on the brick bungalows in the adjacent historic district for much of the facade and that the rest would be stucco.

Because the project was scheduled only for a preliminary review, the committee took no vote on it.

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