The vacant lot on Maple Avenue downtown Evanston that once housed the Donnellan Funeral Home may soon sprout an 11-story mixed use development

Developer Michael McLean has scheduled a neighborhood meeting for next week to discuss the transit-oriented project, which calls for 101 rental apartments and about 4,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space at the corner of Elmwood Avenue and Davis Street.

The property is an “L” shaped lot, in which the Maple Avenue frontage formerly housed the funeral home building and the Davis and Elmwood frontages were used for surface parking.  

Looking south from Davis and Elmwood today, toward the One Evanston high-rise condo building, formerly known as the Winthrop Club.

McLean sais the plans call for small apartments, with 20 percent of them studios, which, he says, are rare in downtown Evanston.

The retail component, he says, is meant to draw shoppers from the east side of the tracks to the West side of Davis Street.

The Maple Avenue frontage, showing Sherman Plaza in the background.

The existing two- and three-story commercial buildings at the corner of Davis and Maple would not be part of the new development.

Update 1:30 p.m.:

A view of the planned development, looking southwest from the intersection of Elmwood, Davis and the Metra tracks.

McLean says the retail space will be built to the property line of Davis and along Elmwood, which runs diagonally in that block because of the adjacent Metra tracks.

He said it will turn Elmwood, “what was effectively an alley,” into “a productive extension of downtown.”

The developers — Centrum Partners and Condor Partners — plan to lease parking for the apartment units at the city’s Maple Avenue garage, two blocks to the north.

The garage, McLean says, is underutilized, and the arrangement will provide new revenue for the city while saving on construction costs for the building.

With two commuter rail stations less than a block away, McLean said, tenants in the apartments may still have cars, but should only need to use them occasionally.

The developers plan to provide 15 parking spots off Maple Avenue open to retail shoppers in the neighborhood.

“We are hoping this helps fill the vacant storefronts” in the base of the One Evanston building, McLean said, “and provides more desperately needed parking for other businesses along Davis.”

He said the new tower building is positioned perpendicular, rather than parallel, to its taller neighbor. “The effect is a very narrow intersection of the buidings, which creates a dnyamic skyline,” McLean added.

The meeting for neighbors to discuss the project is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 18, at the Civic Center.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. New Building

    Very confusing photo/drawing of new building!

    Cannot figure what it will actually look like!

  2. Looks promising

    As a long time nearby resident, I think this development has great potential to add vibrancy to Evanston's downtown and create more businesses for exiting residents.  My only hope is that the building isn't forced to include parking above what the market demands. The last thing we need is more car congestion. Also, the city should not subsidize any businesses that choose to move in. 

    1. Affordable

      If by affordable, you mean small, studio units, then the answer is 20 percent.

      If by affordable, you mean subsidized units — Evanston does not currently require inclusion of subsidized units in new rental developments.

      The city does require inclusion of subsidized units — or contributions to an affordable housing fund — in new condominium projects — which may or may not be a factor in why no new condominium projects have been built in Evanston since that ordinance was adopted.

      As now planned, none of the apartments at 1571 Maple will include on-site parking. As the story mentions, the plan is to provide leased parking at the city's Maple Avenue garage instead.

      — Bill

  3. I can hear it coming

    I can hear it coming already, all the typical I don't like its,  blocks my views, needs more parking, too tall, too wide, too modern, too orange, or red, or pink, or, whatever.  Get out the usual list of unfounded fears, west of the tracks will be doomed, the downtown will be doomed.

    This urban infill project seems to have all the right ideas, smaller units attracting a more youthfull demographic, which is more transit and bike oriented, not car focused, provides retail at street level with no setback, activates the street, further supports downtown retail and jobs, expands the tax base, helps connect the east and west side of tracks.  Finally fills an empty trash strewn lot that has sat empty for what, decades?   Excellent, just excellent.   

  4. Forgetting something, I think

    What about mobility-impaired (especially senior) citizens with parking two blocks away?  Do they never go shopping at grocery or other stores? 

    This is just as bad as the proposed building at Main & Chicago with not enough parking, even with additional (but insufficient) parking which is not on site either.

    Evanston is doing a superior job at catering the biking/downtown worker crowd but is turning a blind eye to the needs of their senior citizens or those with mobility issues. 

    1. Mobility


      The city should not force this building to cater to every possible group of residents imagineable, including residents with mobility issues. If one does have those issues, they can simply choose not to rent in this building.

      1. No one is immune from aging

        And what about seniors, whom I also mentioned?  Try walking two blocks in their shoes for some day you might.  Go ahead, reach 65 or above without a bad back, bad knees, peripheral neuropathy or other even more devastating degenerative disorders and then see how far biking or walking will get you. No one is immune from the inexorable ravages of age.

        I might add that even young working people can suffer a broken leg or ankle and thus be temporarily mobility-impaired.  You're correct, they can choose NOT to live in this building if they develop MS or ALS but what if they already live there?  Oh, yeah that's right, they can move.

        Plus, curbs already cater to people in wheelchairs which most people don't need/use.  Should we stop that practice? 

        I wish you well and I hope you never need the assistance or forethought of others.

  5. Is this going to take over

    Is this going to take over the building that houses Jays Barbershop? That would be sad if it did.

    1. Barber shop

      My understanding is that the answer to that question is — no, the three existing buildings on the corner — the co-working space, the furniture store and the barbershop building — all stay.

      — Bill

  6. It would be great to fill that empty lot

    It would be great to fill that empty lot which has been that way for several years. With Smylie Brothers, Cozy Noodles, Lulus and Taco Diablo nearby, the area would gain in vibrancy. The emphasis on parking should be lessened as it is close to the El and Metra and we need to reduce traffic.

    Sounds interesting, to be sure. I agree the illustrations are confusing as it seems there is no way a building that size would fit. I hope the current vacancy rates in nearby condo and rental units can support these apartments, though.

    1. With Smylie Brothers, Cozy

      With Smylie Brothers, Cozy Noodles, Lulus and Taco Diablo nearby, the area would gain in vibrancy.

      Lulu's and Taco Diablo? Someone hasn't been in the area in a while….

      1. They may return

        I'm pretty sure there are plans for them to come back where Tom Thumb was. So, by the time that building would be built they may very well be in the neighborhood again

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 *