Evanston aldermen Monday moved toward possible final adoption of the downtown plan next month despite a plea from an aldermanic candidate to delay a vote until after April’s city election.

The request came from Judy Fiske, who’s making her second run for alderman of Evanston’s 1st Ward.

While she urged delay on the downtown plan, in hopes new faces on the council will reverse the decision this month to approve a 385-foot height limit for the Fountain Square block, Fiske also urged aldermen to reject the pending planned development proposal for the block.

She said rejecting the 708 Church St. tower plan would permit a revival of existing commercial uses on the block.

The aldermen have tabled consideration of the tower project until after the downtown plan is adopted.

Aldermen Monday gave tentative approval to relatively non-controversial aspects of the plan including provisions for public art and wayfinding signage.

They agreed to disagree about whether the Civic Center should eventually be moved downtown, providing language that calls for consideration of a city hall downtown as well as in other neighborhoods. They also appeared to agree that at this point the city doesn’t have enough money to build a new Civic Center anywhere.

City staff and consultants agreed to have a revised draft of the plan ready for final discussion in time for the Planning and Development Committee’s next meeting on Feb. 9 and to also make it a special order of business for the full City Council meeting that night.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. Downtown
    The above article leads me to a long comment on moving city hall downtown and its relationship with the proposed downtown plan.
    I feel the west davis st. plan as it is currently proposed falls short. The reason I feel that is because of one piece of property in particular, specifically the post office building.

    The post office building sits upon a very large footprint of land and currently does not in any way shape or form, meet the type of use we should be demanding in our downtown.

    Imagine if Fed Ex came to the city and said they want to construct a single story concrete warehouse / distribution facility with no windows that would take up most of a city block. That they would bring dozens of delivery trucks in and out of our downtown daily. That they would leave semi trailers idling in the alley abutting a large residential building. That they would park dozens of trucks on flat surface lots surrounded by chain link fence overnight. That they would close shop at 5pm effectively killing any social activity on their occupied block.

    I believe the city would correctly direct them to industrial areas that need development and would be better suited to that type of use.

    Now, the importance of municipal govt. facilities in downtowns has been studied and its pretty widely accepted that their downtown presence is very positive.
    The facilities help create a strong sense of place and community identification.
    The facilities bring workers and citizens into the district and ours is blessed with easyaccess to mass transit.
    Studies have shown that downtowns with govt offices have more business of every nature, retail, service, professional, technical. Real job creation.

    Frankly, I can’t think of an argument strong enough to trump the many positive effects of locating govt. facilities downtown.

    I understand the current financial situation and Evanstons inability to build today. But that does not mean we should ignore what the long term best possible scenario may be.

    An agreement could occur between the fed and local govt and the post office warehouse facility could be moved to appropriate location, city hall could be built on this non taxed parcel and we can still have an appropriate sized customer service postal facility in the new building.

    For that matter, University facilities located in a downtown also carry the same benefits as govt. facilities. NU will always need more space so this could become a local, federal, postal, institutional joint venture that serves everyone well while spreading the cost.

    Thing is, a large footprint of land like the post office could and should handle a building of greater height and use than the current proposal for west davis allows.
    Putting together a modern LEED facility housing various uses would require greater height.

    Its an example of what could happen to improve a currently inappropriatly used site, that is, if we don’t set our goals too low.

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