Evanston’s Land Use Commission Wednesday night voted to eliminate the city’s apartment hotel zoning category, turning two of the city’s six hotels into non-conforming uses.

The change was recommended for City Council approval as part of a bundle of a dozen proposed zoning modifications.

The move follows by just two days a City Council vote to give final approval to a special use request for the conversion of the shuttered King Home at 1555 Oak Ave. into a Hawthorn Suites extended stay hotel.

Some LUC members had expressed annoyance during their review of the Hawthorn Suites proposal that the apartment hotel code provision specifies that at least 25% of an apartment hotel’s rooms must be rented to transient guests, but sets no upper limit on short-term stays.

The Graduate Hotel at 1625 Hinman Ave.

The zoning change would affect both the Hawthorn Suites and the Graduate Hotel at 1625 Hinman Ave. They both are located in R6 high density residential zones that currently permit apartment hotels as a special use but do not allow regular hotels.

Regular hotels are permitted uses in the downtown and research park districts and either permitted or special uses in commercial districts.

(Of the city’s other hotels, the Holiday Inn and Hyatt House are in the D4 transitional zone, the Hilton Orrington is in the D3 downtown core district and the Hilton Garden Inn is in the Research Park district.)

Nonconforming uses are allowed to continue — but face a variety of adverse conditions — including a prohibition on expansion and a loss of their right to operate if they are discontinued for a period of time or to rebuild if they are destroyed in whole or part.

In asking for changes to the apartment hotel rule, city staff said the current definition “allows for the operation of a potentially intense commercial use in a residential neighborhood.”

Among the city’s six residential zones, only the most intense R6 zone allows apartment hotels, and then only as a special use. The zoning code defines the purpose of R6 as providing for “high density residential development of primarily multi-family dwellings particularly in and around downtown.”

Desiree Shannon relocated to Evanston in 2022 from Columbus, Ohio. She has a journalism degree from Otterbein College of Ohio. During her undergraduate studies, she completed an internship with the Washington...

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. What on earth? More of the insanity?

    I disagree LUC. More friction is not what we are going for.

    The Graduate outpost in Evanston is an excellent inn serving a significantly underserved audience.

    More of these are needed, as the Margarita Inn once was in concept.

    The purpose served by a residential hotel is multifaceted.

    For a NU parent, or anyone visiting this city on the shores of Lake Michigan, it’s a cozy alternative to the big hotel.

    For another traveler category, it’s providing an affordable abode for individuals, couples, families who reside here for one or more non-contiguous weeks or months away from their permanent residence.

    People who maintain their residence away from the metro area most of the year, but who need to come to Evanston for more than a few days to be near family and or medical services, may find a traditional hotel too expensive or inadequate.

    A residential hotel can be a great alternative.

    Virtually every article I read in Evanston Now is about a city department or elected leader whose policy decisions do not elevate quality of life, and instead serve to create a hostile environment.

    As I’ve read, initiatives are often initiated by individuals who may not live in Evanston, or are adjudicating on issues over which they have no deep or relevant experience.

    Since the EN reader comments are overwhelmingly saying the city is going on the wrong direction, one has to inquire about escalation.

    What is the procedure to call for an in-depth review and audit by a private rating firm, or even a state or federal authority of all things government in Evanston?

    Others have called out antics in Evanston before.

    The Chicago Trib published that blistering editorial a while back calling out the onerous hoops the city council and “the same 20 people” put one after another City Manager candidate through.

    Maybe with all the new material unearthed by Evanston Now, our elected leaders may change their ways before the Cavalry is called in.

    Still – who is “that Cavalry”?

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