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Gated community plan for Foster gets cool response from city staff

It’s back to the drawing boards for developers after their plan to build 40 to 50 townhouses on the former Bishop Freeman Company property at 1600 Foster St. got a cool reception from city staff yesterday.

It’s back to the drawing boards for developers after their plan to build 40 to 50 townhouses on the former Bishop Freeman Company property at 1600 Foster St. got a cool reception from city staff yesterday.
Gary Levitas of Northfield Properties and Tom Litwicki of Regency Development proposed three- and four-story townhouses in a gated community design.
Community Development Director James Wolinski said, “We’re not real big on restricted areas. I don’t think anybody is interested in a development that looks isolated from the neighborhood.”
The developers did get a favorable response when they said they’re talking to the owner of the Robinson bus yard east of their site about incorporating his land into the project.
“Bus parking has not been a favorite of the neighbors,” Mr. Wolinski said.
City Planner Dennis Marino said the Robinson land would make it possible to restore the street grid severed by the old railroad right of way used for bus parking.
Then residents could enter the new development from Emerson Street as well as Foster.
Mr. Marino suggested a mix of housing types on the site, including single family homes and condo units.
The neighborhood is mostly single family, but the property borders a new mid-rise senior citizen housing building on Emerson and is across Foster from the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center.
“There is interest in redeveloping the site,” Mr. Wolinski said, “and we don’t think industrial uses are coming back.”
Mr. Litwicki said their preliminary plan calls for townhomes with between 2,000 and 2,400 square feet of living space, priced between $500,000 and $600,000.
“We’re young aggressive guys, looking to establish ourselves for the long haul,” Mr. Levitas said, “and we see a lot of growth potential here in Evanston.”
“This is our first project in Evanston. The reason for us to be here is to get the feedback you’re giving us,” he added, “we’ll go back to our drawing boards and see what we can come up with.”

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