Developers of the proposed 708 Church St. tower project reportedly have submitted new materials about the project to the city.

The Evanston Review Friday quoted the city’s zoning administrator, Bill Dunkley, as saying the city had received the new materials, which were dated Thursday.

Dunkley declined to provide details about the substance of the new submission.

The City Council this month adopted a downtown plan that calls for a 385-foot height limit for the Fountain Square block, but it has yet to adopt zoning changes to implement the plan.

The tower project was submitted under the city’s existing zoning rules, which effectively give the City Council discretion to authorize any building height it chooses for planned development projects downtown.

After the original proposal from developers James Klutznick and Tim Anderson for a 49-story tower appeared likely to be rejected, they reduced the proposed building’s height to 38 stories.

That version of the project was tabled by aldermen last year when it appeared it was likely to fall one vote short of the six-vote super-majority required on the nine-member council for it to win approval.

The motion to table was structured to postpone action on the project until after the downtown plan was adopted.

There is no new material on the project in the packet for the City Council’s Monday meeting, so it’s likely that any action on the project would be deferred until a later meeting.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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19 Comments

  1. Fountain Square Plans
    This message is for the Alderman and Citizens who seem to be illinformed and also ingorant of this project:

    1. First, at this point in the economy, Evanston should be embracing this development. By the way, it is directly, and I say directly tied to local jobs. A large number of HUGE projects in Chicago are stalled because of lack of credit, funding and the financial crisis. This developer, despite the absolutely ridiculous extra costs that Evanston has caused this project is still standing by it with modifcation after modication. Stop the project? Are you going to help those people with finding jobs?

    2. Second, the plan now meets the city’s urban center plan in every detail. The dollars and effort were spent to do this.

    3. In its new format, while for some us who actually preferred the tall and sleek building, this still fits within the city plan.

    4. To suggest a conspiracy or anything of the sort is ridiculous. Evanston is LUCKY to have a committed developer and an truly outstanding, top notch architect working on this to make it possible despite all the City bullshit. Some of the BS is legitimate democracy. Other invented war against and imaginary enemy and something called progress.

    For you eggheaded, rockheaded folks who just can’t see to the point that the plans were made, proposed, revised, proposed and will be democratically voted on is indeed the process that has resulted the new plan that complies with the City requirements. But now, while mostly fellow Democrats, look to stimulate jobs and the economy you would still seek to stop one of the few major projects left in the Chicago area? And, the project is designed by an award winning, Chicago architectural icon. How STUPID can you be?

    Stimulus

  2. Eggheads?
    Great post, Stimulus. I agreed with everything you wrote, up until the last paragraph:

    “For you eggheaded, rockheaded folks who just can’t see to the point that the plans were made, proposed, revised, proposed …”

    Eggheaded? Usually that term is usually used as a derisive term against intellectuals. See the quote from Wikipedia below:

    “In the slang of the United States, egghead was an anti-intellectual epithet, directed at people considered too out-of-touch with ordinary people and too lacking in realism, common sense, virility, etc. on account of their intellectual interests.

    The origin is possibly from the 1950’s, when the term was used to describe Adlai Stevenson, and it was used in 2008 by the Clinton camp to describe Obama’s supporters.

    While the tower-haters are out-of-touch and lacking in realism and common sense, etc….they are certainly not intellectuals. In fact, they are profoundly anti-intellectual, with their inconsistent arguments, their xenophobia, their ‘small-town’ mentality, and their intolerance. In fact, some of these same anti-tower activists are also anti-NU activists.

    1. Egghead
      I stand corrected – – you are right! I meant it in a non-intellectual way of course! I mean, scrambled eggs of no logic.

  3. Fountain Square tower plans updated
    Stimulus,
    Amen! Evanston needs this project to happen. The jobs that this building will provide, not just during construction, but afterwards with maintenance work, retail stores etc, will be crucial during the coming years. Can someone remind me of the arguments against this tower that still seem legit in this economy? Twenty minutes of shadow every day doesn’t seem to cut it anymore.

    1. Write your letters now
      Hello all you smart people!

      This is a critical time. If you ever thought to support a program that will have long lasting benefit to the city — this is that time.

      The supporting Alderman need your letters — yes letters of suport. Please contact those Alderman supporting and your Alderman.

      Good luck. The project could have a prayer with your support. Not only does Evanston need the project — the metro area needs it.

      Thank you!

      1. To all the pro-Tower savants
        Mr. Who Knows What?, Stimulus and all the other star struck fans/savants of the Tower, it is obvious that the long term is your only concern and that measly events in the next five years or so are of no concern.

        Would you enthusiasts, so enervated, please come out from your hiding places and be willing to pay the increased taxes and fees for us naysayers when they go up to cover the shortfall in tax revenue?

        That would be just a small favor if your icon rises up from the mire and mist of downtown Evanston fulfilling your wildest dreams and desires.

        If you have any spare change you might also contribute to the underfunded police and fire pension funds. Consider that a down payment to the new vibrant shining city on the sanitary canal with its iconic tower a beacon and stimulus to all…

        1. An offer too good to be true.
          Vito asks:
          “Would you enthusiasts, so enervated, please come out from your hiding places and be willing to pay the increased taxes and fees for us naysayers when they go up to cover the shortfall in tax revenue?”

          This assumes that there will be an increase in taxes to cover this temporary shortfall in revenue.

          I thought I explained this before, but I’ll try one more time:

          The long term benefits will outweigh the short-term shortfalls. So the City could obtain loans or issue bonds on future tax revenue to cover the relatively small loss in the short term. Even accounting for interest, the City will come out ahead. NPV. QED.

          But Vito, since you only care about the short term, I am willing to pay your taxes for you. And more…here’s the deal, Vito. I will give you, today, as much money as I have. Right now. All I ask is that, starting in the year 2011, you or your heirs give me 40 cents for every dollar I give you. That would be 40 cents per year…in perpetuity. Of course, I expect collateral to back up my generous loan.

          Vito, this is a special offer that I am making for you because I like you. You will be able to have free money in the short term, which is all that matters.

          This is too good to pass up, Vito. Only a Darwin-award winner would say no.

          What do you say?
          Bafflegab?

          1. The Offer
            Mr. Who Knows What? your offer sounds like something Wall St types (pre meltdown) would offer to gullible mortgage seekers.

            Have you thought of working for developers?

            But then you couldn’t hide, could you?

        2. Reply to: To all the pro-Tower savants
          Most of the “so called” pro-Tower savants live in a true city where highrises are a fact of life and are more than likely paying higher taxes and or other fees than you already.

          Also, what makes you think that the addition of the structure has anything to do with the shortfall in tax revenue? If anything, the building would help because of the real estate transfer tax and other financial benifits.

          Butler V. Adams

  4. What’s the point
    I don’t even see the point of this discussion. What financial institution is going to finance this albatross in this economy?

    Who’s going to buy the 2-bedroom units for the $750K and the 3-bedroom units for $1 mil plus that would be required for this project to be profitable?

    Look at the failed Main & Chicago project. Look at the condo conversions that haven’t sold and have had to change directions and become rentals.

    I don’t think this thing is ever going to get off the ground.

    1. Re: The Fountain Albatross
      It does make one wonder how a developer would want to build in the current economic market. (Or how one would possibly get funding, however it was approved before.) Particularly when mortgages, real estate, and even Banks aren’t worth nearly as much as they used to be, and we have bailouts the size of which haven’t been seen since the Great Depression. You have been watching TV, right?

      Not to mention who would buy the properties once they’re built. But that risk falls to the developer, I suppose.

      I did, however, find more than a few condos for sale across the street…

      Feb 25 – $349000 / 1br – Sherman Plaza 1 Bedroom + Den-(Evanston)

      Feb 25 – $649900 / 2br – Sherman Plaza 2 Bedroom + Study-(Evanston)

      $339000/1br – (Sherman Plaza – Evanston)

      $625000/807 Davis 1312 – Bedrooms 2 MLS Number: 06926879

      $569,000/Bedrooms 2 MLS Number: 07121032

      $449,000/Bedrooms 2 MLS Number: 07133463
      Address 807 Davis St 301

      $419,000 Bedrooms 2 MLS Number: 06876752
      Address 807 Davis St 2010

      Just so we’re all on the same page of sanity here, not pretending everything is “sold-out” and there is a huge demand for even more condos to be built.

      I’d also like to invite any and all “anonymous or psuedonym” posters to get real and grow a backbone. If you can’t stand by your own opinions in life, you probably shouldn’t voice them. As for who receives alleged financial gifts in any way, shape, or form, I’m sure it’s something a tax audit would clear up.

      You all did catch the UBS bank scandal article, right?

      1. shortage of retail space and but lots of empty storefronts
        Calin Day says:
        “I’d also like to invite any and all “anonymous or psuedonym” posters to get real and grow a backbone. If you can’t stand by your own opinions in life, you probably shouldn’t voice them. As for who receives alleged financial gifts in any way, shape, or form, I’m sure it’s something a tax audit would clear up.”

        Yawn…we’ve heard that argument before. The NIMBY tower-haters are unable to refute the superb logic of the progressive enquiring minds who support the Tower. While we stick to economics, NPV, and civil rights, the tower-haters resort to just attacking anonymous posters.

        I think an honest debate is always good, and honesty does not mean using real names, but using intellectually honest arguments.

        Calin, take a look at the ECRD website :

        Myth: Evanston will get much needed retail space.
        Reality: The original proposal of the developers actually created LESS retail space than currently exists. In an effort to minimize the impact of the base of the building, the developers proposed that this retail space be cut in half.

        I wonder, Calin Day, if you agree with the ECRD when they say that the tower is bad because it will take away needed retail space. Do you agree with ECRD that Evanston has a shortage of retail space?

        Or do you agree with another tower-opponent, Chae Yi, who writes:
        “Tons of empty storefronts in the downtown area. What’s the new construction going to bring in for retail? How will it shore up the downtown business area?”

        Is the tower bad because it will take away much needed retail space? Or is the tower bad because we have too many empty storefronts already?

        1. Re: Myths vs. Facts – Logic usually wins out.
          Dear person(s) who may or may not have five names or more who posts on this site and others,

          Let’s take a reality break, shall we?

          I’m not a “tower-hater”. And I call you out for your lack of willingness to stand by your opinion in person, not for your views. (You might want to look up the internet parlance for “Troll” sometime.)

          Regardless of who builds what and where, I believe WHEN is a more important question. I personally don’t consider taking out a loan when I have no job, no savings, and bills to pay.

          It’s my opinion that the city is in that situation right now. Based on the FACTS I’ve read, I believe my opinion is correct in this case. (Pension funds, anyone?)

          Why should the city take another risk, when they have so many other, much larger, issues to consider? Why not sit on this particular risk – and it is a risk, regardless of what everyone wants to say about it – until it’s LESS of a risk. (Because it will still be a risk even in good economic times.) They can sit on this project for as long as they want.

          Whether or not this project, or any other, turns out in the long run to be good or bad doesn’t really matter NOW. Right now, it’s a risk I wouldn’t take. (Others would, but many of those folks are in foreclosure for mortgages they can’t pay. Turn on your TV if you don’t believe me. $1.75 TRILLION.)

          Logic, I find, prevails in most situations. Even those who don’t want to believe something is true in the beginning usually find out the hard way in the end. (1.75 Trillion is a hard way to learn.)

          There are a few undisputed things in life that I try to live mine by:

          Supply vs. Demand.
          Risk vs. Reward.
          Myth vs. Reality.
          Logic vs. Emotion.

          Balance between these things is the key to success. Not one over the other.

          As for my personal views, (because I know people love to attack personal views but I don’t care because I’m brave enough to put my actual name and opinion out here), are as follows:

          1. There is currently more supply than demand for Condos. (Based on my own condo value. Try craigslist if you don’t believe me.)

          2. Not enough office space supply. (The large company I work for had a heck of a time finding enough room, though eventually they got lucky.)

          3. More than enough retail space, and not enough retail choice, for certain commodities. (Even I shop at Old Orchard and the Internet because I cannot find the brands at the prices I want sometimes.)

          4. The economic situation in America is a terrible place to take big risks lately. It’s also a bad time to try to get funding from banks. (I have a good friend who manages a mutual fund backed by securities, so I have an insider view into the cluster**** that it really is. Also, have you tried to take out more equity lately? Not happening.)

          5. The President of the United States went on television last night to address the nation and the hardships we all face right NOW from a $$$ perspective. If that doesn’t slap logic in your face with a big bat, nothing will.

          6. A big group of jackasses who borrowed more than they should built buildings – then sold those buildings to people who could not pay them back – is why we are ALL in the current economic crisis we are in now. Why then, logically, would I want to see them build more ANYWHERE, much less here – right now?

          Cheers,
          – Calin Day

          1. When vs. now
            Calin,

            Well, build the damn thing now!

            Heck, if we wait, forget it. This country, Evanston and all of us individuals will be so bankrupt, we will be lucky if we can afford a mobile home.

            I fear for our future.

            How much “change” is too much “change.”

            “Cheers”

          2. bold action and big ideas
            I originally wrote a point by point refutation of Calin’s towerphobic comments. Too long. Let’s stick to points #5 and #6:

            “5. The President of the United States went on television last night to address the nation and the hardships we all face right NOW from a $$$ perspective. If that doesn’t slap logic in your face with a big bat, nothing will.”

            I think that Mr. Obama would like to see this tower project get off the ground. Good construction jobs. Steel being made, concrete poured, electricians putting in wires. Stimulus.

            “6. A big group of jackasses who borrowed more than they should built buildings – then sold those buildings to people who could not pay them back – is why we are ALL in the current economic crisis we are in now. Why then, logically, would I want to see them build more ANYWHERE, much less here – right now?”

            Well..they won’t be building anything right now, it will take a few years.

            I want to see America functioning again. I want to see the construction cranes and the guys in their hard hats. I want my Metra train to be full during rush hour like it was just a few months ago, I want the stores to be full of customers. This cannot happen if we all decide to stop building, stop opening businesses, and stop spending.

            You mentioned above (point 5) President Obama’s address to Congress. Did you listen to the President?

            ” History reminds us that at every moment of economic upheaval and transformation, this nation has responded with bold action and big ideas. In the midst of civil war, we laid railroad tracks from one coast to another that spurred commerce and industry. ….And a twilight struggle for freedom led to a nation of highways, an American on the moon, and an explosion of technology that still shapes our world.”

            (Compare Mr. Obama’s words above to my previous post. Great minds think alike.)

            Like the President says, this is time for bold action and big ideas. Who says we can’t have a tower downtown? Why can’t we have a new Civic Center, or an IHOP at Kendall? The naysayers ( Congressional Republicans, 6th Ward NIMBYs, Vito) will try to stop progress, saying we can’t afford it or it is too risky or we need to focus on the short term. But there will always be risk – doing nothing has its risks too. Now more than ever we must focus on the long term, on NPV, on creating new jobs and opportunities.

            It is time for Evanston residents to stop being divided, and stop arguing, and come together to support the Tower.

          3. Mr Who and Mr Obama think alike?
            Mr Who – States “(Compare Mr. Obama’s words above to my previous post. Great minds think alike.)”

            Mr Who – I met President Obama, He put his arm around me and answered a question I asked him. I do not think your “inquiring mind” matches his. Nor does he pretend to be a professor at NU, he was a real professor at the University of Chicago.

            Lets get real – you are more like Chuckie Dawes,
            ( your favorite Evanston elected official) long dead and gone. You need to come into the real world.

  5. Downtown is not as bad as you think
    In response to DP Witt, people are still buying condos downtown.

    Last month, two condos have sold at Sherman Plaza, across the street from Fountain Square.

    Unit 407-$340k
    Unit 1612- $607,500

    The Winthrop Condo Highrise on Maple is selling, too.

    And, if the developers for this project get approval today, it would take at least five years to break ground.

    I’m sure everyone is hopeful the real estate market overall and in Evanston has improved by then. The demographics alone prove there will be a demand for baby boomers to downsize in an urban lifestyle several years from now.

    1. Yup
      I am with Mr. Who Knows – whoever you are!

      * Do it for the long term
      * There will be buyers
      * No holes in the ground until the project is financed – that is already committed
      * The long term tax situation, jobs situation and benefits are worth it
      * A 5 year view is no way to view the finances by any financial measure (DUH!)

      Development is needed. It is needed now and this has as horse hairs ass of a chance to get off the ground, well, this would about the time it is needed.

      Yours truly,
      Stimulus.

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