The city is moving forward with efforts to get some planning done for the near west side before a 120-day building permit moratorium expires August 12.

Dennis Marino, assistant director of community development, told the Economic Development Committee Wednesday night that the staff plans to send out on Friday a request for proposals for planning work to the four firms the city pre-qualified for the job earlier this month.

That, Mr. Marino said, should keep the process on track toward City Council approval of the contracts by the council’s June 26 meeting.

He said the planning firms would then hold meetings with community groups during July and present their reports to the council in August.

That may be a tight sqeeze, however, as the council’s only currently scheduled August meeting is on the 14th, two days after the moratorium the council imposed in April expires.

The moratorium applies to properties along the old Mayfair railroad right-of-way from Greenleaf Street north to Green Bay Road.

Several industrial properties along the corridor are either for sale or already under contract for purchase by developers. These include the Robinson bus property on Emerson Street, the Tapecoat Co. property on Lyons and the Bishop-Freeman property on Foster Street.

The council recently approved the Church Street Village townhouse development for the former Edward Hines lumberyard property in the area and just this week rejected the proposed Darrow Corners affordable housing project at Church Street and Darrow Avenue.

Mr. Marino said the city wants to avoid piecemeal development in the area and engage the neighbors in a master planning process.

He said the old rail corridor provides an opportunity for providing some additional greening of the city with recreational space, but that it also has some difficult planning challenges.

Those include Commonwealth Edison’s large transformer station just south of Emerson and east of Darrow and the Onyx trash transfer station east of Darrow and north of Church.

The planning firms pre-qualified for the work are Farr Associates, JJR LLC, Yas Architecture and The Lakota Group. They were chosen from 11 firms that submitted proposals for the job.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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