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Fountain Square tower approved

The Evanston City Council Monday voted 6-3 to give final approval to plans for a 35-story condominium tower at 708 Church St. on the Fountain Square block downtown.

The vote came after approval of one final amendment to the proposal, offered by Alderman Anjana Hansen, 9th Ward, at the suggestion of members of the Network for Evanston’s Future.

That amendment would require developers to attain silver LEED status for the building under standards of the environmental program in effect when the building is actually constructed, rather than the standards as they exist now. It also gives the developers six months rather than three to complete the certification process once the building is completed.

Proponents of the amendment said the U.S. Green Building Council, which administers the LEED program, can only make a decision based on the standards in effect at the time the project is submitted for certification and that standards may change because of new developments in technology between now and then.

Several other amendments, all proposed by tower opponent Alderman Steve Bernstein, 4th Ward, were rejected.

Those included raising the contribution by the developer to restoring the Fountain Square plaza from $1 million to $2 million, requiring the developer to lease 35 parking spaces from the city in the Sherman Plaza garage and shortening the deadline for starting construction from 2013 to 2011.

Aldermen Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, and Elizabeth Tisdahl, 7th Ward, joined Bernstein in voting for those amendments and voting against the tower project itself.

Tower supporters, including Alderman Edmund Moran, 6th Ward, and Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, argued that the tower will greatly increase city tax revenue from the property.

Rainey also noted that there had been widespread opposition to other downtown development projects, including the Century Theatre development, which are now seen as being among the downtown area’s greatest strengths.

The tower project was first unveiled by developers Tim Anderson and James Klutznick nearly two years ago as a 49-story development. As the project went through the city’s review process it gradually shrank in height to the current 35-story design but still has roughly the same number of apartment units and square footage.

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