Evanston’s Preservation Commission agreed Tuesday to relax some of the redevelopment constraints typically applied to landmark buildings in voting to send a proposal to landmark the former Foster School building at 2010 Dewey Ave. to the City Council for final action.

The action came after Dino Robinson, who had sought the landmark status, told commissioners he had no objection to the proposed changes sought by the non-profit owner of the building.

Bridget O’Keefe.

Bridget O’Keefe, an attorney representing Family Focus, the building’s owner, said the restrictions as originally proposed by the Preservation Commission had killed off all interest among potential buyers in purchasing the building, which Family Focus says it can no longer afford to maintain.

An aerial view of the neighborhood, with the Family Focus property highlighted.

O’Keefe urged the commission to make it as easy as possible for a future property owner to redevelop the north parking lot of the building for single family homes or townhouses that would be permitted under the property’s existing B4 zoning.

She also requested that the commission make it clear that the landmark designation was not intended to block expansion on the west side of the building or on the building’s roof.

She suggested that the east facade of the building should be regarded as the primary one for landmark purposes.

After struggling to come up with precise wording to reflect the proposed changes, the commissoners voted to support the general sense of those changes and leave it to staff to draft final wording to be forwarded to the City Council.

The discussion did not address how parking for possible future increased density on the site would be addressed or whether a future redevelopment might involve the vacated portion of Dewey Avenue that separates the site from the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center to the east.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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