Fountain Square tower

The developers of Sherman Plaza today unveiled a rendering of what they hope will happen across the street on the Fountain Square block in Evanston.

Developers Tim Anderson and James Klutznick say they want to replace the two-story 708 Church St. building at the north end of the block with a 49-story condominium tower that would have two floors of retail and three levels of parking at the base.

They also propose that the city use incremental tax revenue from the tower to pay for acquisition of the seven-story Fountain Square building at the south end of the block and redeveloping that site with an expanded plaza and a smaller retail building that likely would house a restaurant.

The landmarked three-story Hahn building at mid-block would be untouched by the development proposal.

The current incarnation of Fountain Square was built as a bicentennial project in the 1970s and now suffers from decaying masonry and fountains that work only sometimes.

The city’s latest capital plan estimates the rebuilding cost for the plaza at $4 million — with no funding source identified to pay for it.

Mr. Anderson said that when the developers met with the City Council in executive session recently to discuss the implications of the project for the city-owned plaza, the aldermen indicated they wanted the city to be in charge of the plaza project.

“This can be the financial engine to support acquisition of the Fountain Square building to expand the plaza and make an outdoor living room for downtown Evanston,” Mr. Anderson said.

He said same tax increment financing district covers both Sherman Plaza and the Fountain Square block. “That TIF ends in 2018. This project would probably be up by 2010 or so. That means there’s only eight years of increment revenue available. So if the city waits five years to do this, the increment won’t be there to do Fountain Square. There’s just a short window of opportunity,” he added.

The developers say they hope to begin the formal review process for the project before the city’s Plan Commission in June and, assuming they get needed approvals, start construction late next year.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. No more TIF funding in Evanston!
    It is clear to me TIF funding is getting out of control. Evanston has far to many TIF’s. The City is using TIF funds for too many non-related activities such as paying city employee salaries, police officers in the TIF areas and recently proposed funding part of Evmark with it!
    There is no need for TIF on this project – this appears to extend the life of the existing TIF which is of no benifit to the school districts. Just another way to make taxpayers pay for development.

    Since few will want such a tall building in town, the repair of foundation square might make some of our council members think this is a good idea given thier lack of leadership skills and vision.

  2. New building
    The proposed building looks essentially like an upraised middle finger in the midst of downtown.

    Long live development?

  3. Eye sore
    This eye sore defeats the entire essence of Evanston, which is “community”. Build the shops and parking, without the additional 45 stories of condos.

  4. A city with no soul
    It is astounding to me that Evanston’s natural base of jobs and prosperity, thanks to Northwestern and its proximity to Chicago, does nothing to slow down its march towards becoming a soul-less city. We are already slave to pretty much every franchise available in the Midwest, now we are to be persuaded that what we need is another eyesore building.

    These new condos will continue to push the bounds of tenant demand; in an economic downturn, rents and sale prices will plummet for all condo owners in the city.

    And by the way, could we maybe get the top floors of Sherman Plaza completed before we move on to a new monstrosity?

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