Here’s a recap of our live coverage of Monday evening’s meeting of the Evanston City Council Planning and Development Committee.
The meeting is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m.
A packet with information on the agenda items is available online.
Meeting called to order at 5:40 p.m. Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd) chairs the meeting. All seven committee members present.
P1 – 504-514 South Blvd development
The five-story 62,000 square foot project would have 60 affordable apartments, a mix of 1, 2 and 3 bedroom units.
Units will be available to families earning 30% to 80% of area median income.
City data suggests 40% of households in Evanston now pay more than one third of their income for housing. Johana Casanova, senior vice president of development for the developer, PIRHL Inc., says that’s very common across the country.
She says the goal is to start construction next fall and have the building ready for occupancy by Summer 2025.
In response to a question from Ald. Devon Reid (8th), Casanova says the project will have solar panels on the roof.
Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) says he’s pleased that project will seek net zero energy certification.
Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) also praises the project … as do Ald. Juan Geracaris (9th), Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) and Wynne.
D1 – Adding financial solvency requirement for planned developments
Kelly says its already required for TIF developments. Wants that expanded to all planned developments.
In a memo staff suggests an alternative approach would be to require a performance bond prior to the issuance of a building permit.
Reid says finance for large developments is often complex and frequently isn’t secured until after zoning approval is obtained. But says he might support such a rule for projects that have city financing.
Kelly says she could be OK with just getting financial solvency information before approval.
Elizabeth Williams of city staff says it would become public records. Says found three examples — Wilmette, Winnetka and Oak Park — require preliminary financial solvency requirements with the option of an economic proforma.
Nieuwsma says he doesn’t get what city would be asking for. Not requiring proof of financing locked in at the entitlement stage — says that not how things work. Suggests might ask for it at permitting stage.
Nieuwsma asks what’s the problem here — doesn’t want a landscape of half-completed buildings — doesn’t see that as a significant problem in Evanston. Just involved one project after the 2008 financial crisis. Says any impediments to new development across the board — he’d be reluctant to endorse.
Says he’d be most comfortable with the status quo. Doesn’t want to make Evanston more of a difficult place to do business.
Burns doesn’t want it added as a new standard for approval and further burden affordable housing developers. Says market is difficult for affordable housing already.
Reid suggests restricting the rule to projects where the city is making a substantial investment in the project.
Sarah Flax, community development director, says staff already requires that. That’s a standard process for all affordable housing developments requesting funding from the city.
Wynne says it doesn’t appear that there’s support to move forward with the proposal.
Discussion item is NOT forwarded to staff for any further work, on a vote of 2-5, with Kelly and Reid voting yes.
Meeting adjourned at 6:50 p.m.