Developer Robert Horner has withdrawn his request to the city for a zoning analysis of his proposal for a 37-story mixed-use tower on the Fountain Square block.

Hahn Building tower

A rendering of the design for the 37-story tower looking north.

Evanston Community Development Director James Wolinski says Mr. Horner told him he had better uses for his time and resources at this point than to pursue the tower plan.

A call this morning to Mr. Horner was not immediately returned.

His proposal was the second of two condo towers proposed for the block this spring. The first proposal, for a 49-story tower at the north end of the block, from the developers of the Sherman Plaza project across the street, is still in the development review process.

Mr. Wolinski said, “It was pretty obvious two towers weren’t going to get approved on the site.” He added that he thought the 37-story building’s design “was thrown together pretty hastily” and had a number of issues, including using space under the public Fountain Square plaza for parking and using a car elevator system to access the parking.

Leon Robinson, who owns the landmark Hahn Building at midblock, which would have been topped by the tower under Mr. Horner’s plan, said Mr. Horner “hasn’t quite pulled out” and may revive the project.

Mr. Robinson said, “The city all of a sudden is putting everything on hold and downzoning. Developers are getting a little upset. With what they have to pay for property, they have to get density to make up the costs.”

He added that when aldermen recently voted to spend nearly a quarter million dollars to repair the existing Fountain Square plaza, “that was kind of a slap in the face. It indicated that the city was probably going to hold all these projects up until the moratorium expires.”

The City Council had voted to exempt the two tower proposals, and projects at 1515 Chicago Ave. and 1890 Maple Ave. from the six-month building permit moratorium it imposed June 11 because they were already under review.

Despite that, the aldermen July 9 tabled a final vote on the 14-story 1890 Maple Ave. rental development after one alderman said she wanted to wait for the planning process to play out.

“At the last minute, trying to hold it up, is crazy,” Mr. Robinson said, given the amount of money the developer has tied up in the project.

Mr. Robinson said Mr. Horner told him he plans to meet with City Manager Julia Carroll after she returns from vacation and then make up his mind about whether to pursue the tower project.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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