Evanston aldermen will be asked Monday to authorize the city manager to negotiate a contract to sell the library parking lot downtown for redevelopment as an 11-story office building.

The latest plans from a reformulated development team are a substantial change from ones proposed last fall that ran into substantial criticism at a community meeting in December.

The previous plans called for a 14-story building with 207,000 square feet of leasable space. The new plans increase the setback from the street, cut the height to 11 stories, feature a more traditional design and reduce the office space to 136,000 square feet.

The developers, in exchange, are asking the city to reduce the selling price for the lot from $5 million to $4 million.

A rendering looking from the east side of the Chicago Avenue intersection with Clark Street, showing the proposed new office building in the center, the 1738 Chicago Ave. condo building at right, the Evanston Place apartments at left and the Park Evanston apartment tower in the distance. 

Developers Gregory Stec and Bruce Larson say their original partner on the project, Conor Commercial, has withdrawn from its initial role as the development design team, but its McShane Construction unit will continue as the general contractor to build the project.

Stec and Larson say Evanston architect Paul Janicki has been brought on as the new lead design architect for the project.

A rendering looking north from the Park Evanston and Whole Foods toward the planned new office building.

The new building would be flanked by the Woman’s Club of Evanston and a row of three Victorian era homes that include the Frances Willard house.

As with the previous design, the new plans call for including three floors of parking at the base of the building, including public parking for the full 74-car capacity of the existing parking lot.

The project is expected to create 500 new office-worker jobs downtown, generating additional business for local restaurants and retail shops. The construction cost of the project is estimated at $47 million.

Approval of the ordinance directing development of a sales contract requires a two-thirds majority of the council, as would a subsequent ordinance required to actually approve the sale.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1.  No way!

    No way! This building is still WAY too high for the historic buildings around it.  6 floors maximum.


    1. We need the taxable revenue

      We need the taxable revenue it will bring. Lots of educational & pension related expenses upcoming. Evanston’s not a quaint bedroom community anymore. Times have changed, be thankful the historic buildings are allowed to take up the valuable real estate they sit atop.

      1. Forgot Hugh hike in District 65 taxes

        You forgot the hugh hike in District 65 Property taxes  that you thought was best thing since sliced bread.

    2. I also think the building is

      I also think the building is too tall for the location, but it is a step in the right direction. I would like to see a 3-5 story building, no higher than the existing structures on the block.

      1. Existing height on the block

        Hi Southeast,

        The existing structures on the west side of the block include the nine-story 1738 Chicago Ave. condo tower.

        And the entire east face of the block is filled with the nine-story Evanston Place apartment building.

        — Bill

    3. Built it!

      I think the new design is beautiful, and adds significantly to the architectural character of downtown. So happy it’s not another glassy box design!

      Anyway, thrilled about this project and the new workers and life it will bring to downtown.

      Surface parking lots don’t belong in our central business district, or any city’s central business district for that matter. Hope this gets approved right away.

  2. Parking for local businesses

    This article mentions that there was substantial protest against this new construction, but then does not address how the concerns about parking for local businesses will be addressed.

    1. Parking

      Hi Lori,

      Reread the third to last paragraph of the story. All the existing spaces in the open parking lot are to be replaced with parking inside the new building.

      Precisely how much parking the new building will have for its own tenants is not addressed in the material for Monday’s meeting. Since both proposals called for a total of three floors of parking, and since the footprint of the new building is somewhat smaller — it’s probably reasonable to assume that — with three fewer floors of offices — there will also be somewhat less total parking. But that’s just a guess.

      Suspect that question will come up during Monday’s meeting.

      — Bill 

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