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Fountain Square tower tabled

Evanston aldermen this evening voted to postpone a vote on the proposed Fountain Square tower project until after the Plan Commission delivers a new downtown plan to the City Council.

The action came after tower supporters on the council’s Planning and Development Committee determined they lacked the six-vote super-majority needed to approve the project.

The commission is scheduled discuss the downtown plan at a meeting next Wednesday, but city Planning Director Dennis Marino told aldermen he doesn’t believe they’ll finish work on it until June.

The motion to table came after Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, a long-time opponent of the project, moved to reject the tower plan. She said the project would "explode" the zoning ordinance and that benefits the developer is offering are totally insufficient.

Her motion was seconded by Alderman Anjana Hansen, 9th Ward.

Alderman Elizabeth Tisdahl, 7th Ward, and Alderman Steve Bernstein, 4th Ward, then announced their opposition to the project — at least in its current configuration.

Alderman Edmund Moran, 6th Ward, spoke at length in favor of the project, arguing that it will greatly ease the city’s financial crisis. He then offered the motion to table, which was seconded by Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward.

Aldermen Cheryl Wollin, 1st Ward, Lionel Jean-Baptiste, 2nd Ward, and Bernstein also vote for the motion to table.

Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, who was chairing the meeting, voted against the motion to table, although she didn’t indicate whether she favors or opposes the project itself.

Project developers Tim Anderson and Jim Klutznick said after the meeting that they weren’t prepared to comment on the aldermen’s action. The developers originally proposed a 49-story building on the site, but recently cut the height to 38 stories, while retaining the same 218 condominium units.

The revised proposal would still be the tallest building in the metro area outside Chicago’s Loop, but only by three feet.

Project opponent Judy Fiske said the vote demonstrated a lack of leadership by the City Council, by handing the debate about the future of the Fountain Square block back to the Plan Commission. The commission had split 4-3 in voting to recommend the tower project to the council.

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