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HACC seeks OK for senior housing tower revisions

Changes reduce market-rate unit count and on-site parking but keep the same number of affordable units.

A rendering of "The Emerson" the new HACC development proposed for the northwest corner of Sherman Avenue and Emerson Street, as approved by the City Council in 2020.

The Housing Authority of Cook County is seeking City of Evanston approval for changes to its previously approved plans for a 16-story affordable housing development at 1900 Sherman Ave.

The architect for the project, Gregory Klosowski of Pappageorge Haymes Partners, says the need for the revisions became apparent after the development team discovered that HACC’s Perlman Apartments, just north of the proposed building, had been constructed decades ago with a shallow mat slab foundation, rather than a deep foundation or caisson system, which is more common for buildings of its height.

Two illustrations provided by HACC showing how the original design of the new building, on the right in each illustration, would relate that of the existing Perlman building. In the left illustration, the foundation they thought the Perlman had, and on the right, what actually exists. The area that could be impacted by any new excavation is shown in red in both illustrations.

Klosowski said the actual design of the Perlman building’s foundation makes it impractical to provide two levels of underground parking in the new building and to locate the two buildings as close to each other has had originally been planned.

Floor plans for the original design (on top) and the new one.

The new design separates the two buildings from each other by about 20 feet and reduces the number of apartment units on each floor from 12 to 11. That cuts the total number of units in the building from 168 to 152

The number of parking spaces in the project also is reduced in the new plan from 37 to 25.

Richard Monocchio.

HACC Executive Director Richard Monocchio said the parking shortfall would be made up by leasing additional spaces at The Link development across an alley from the new building.

With the total unit count reduced, fully one third of the units in the building would be affordable — 34 designed for households earning less than 50% of area median income and 17 for households earning 80% of AMI.

Some speakers at an online meeting Wednesday afternoon to discuss the changes raised objections to the plans.

Tina Paden, who lives a few blocks from the site on Emerson said the developer should be required to pay for upgrades to traffic signals on Emerson. In fact those traffic signals were upgraded by the city just last year.

Kiera Kelly questioned the need for the development. She said the city has seen many new senior living places built in recent years and claimed they were experiencing high vacancy rates.

Curt Bailey.

But Curt Bailey of Related Midwest, HACC’s partner in the development, said Related wouldn’t have gotten involved in the project if the firm wasn’t confident about the market.

Clare Kelly.

Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) who as an aldermanic candidate had spoken against the development before its approval by City Council last fall, hosted the online meeting. She said she was most concerned now about ensuring that the new building had the least impact on residents of the Perlman building and wanted to see greenspace around the development maximized.

The changes are expected to be reviewed by the city’s Design and Project Review Committee on Sept. 29 and by the Plan Commission on Oct. 13. They are expected to reach the City Council for review in November.

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