Evanston’s Land Use Commission voted 7-0 Wednesday night to recommend that City Council reject plans for an 18-story apartment building at 1621 Chicago Ave.
The vote came after after the panel heard over an hour of objections to the project from neighbors, including Bernard Riley, president of the 1500 Hinman co-op apartments, who called it “a death star of a project” that was “patently inappropriate for the area.”
Commissioner Max Puchtel said the developers were proposing “a beautiful building” but that it didn’t fit with the site’s downtown transitional district zoning.
Commissioner Brian Johnson said the city does need more residents downtown to provide more vitality and activation, but said the building was out of scale for the district.
Commissioner George Halik said, “When I walk around I see empty storefronts and I don’t see restaurants or business coming back, I’m terrified.”
“One thing that could help is more housing downtown,” Halik added. “The goal should be to get something built on this site, but I think this project is just too big.”
After the commissioners announced their views, Graham Grady, an attorney for developer Horizon Realty Group, said his client wanted to prepare revisions to the proposal base on “the many concerns stated.”
Commission Chair Matt Rodgers said the developers would have 60 days to make any revisions before the project would have to go before City Council.
But he indicated that major changes would likely lead the Council to direct that a new planned unit development application be submitted, which would lead to another hearing before the LUC.