A revised inclusionary housing ordinance scheduled for discussion by aldermen Monday night contains several new incentives city officials hope will offset some of the burden the ordinance would place on housing developers in Evanston.

Community Development Director Mark Muenzer says the revised ordinance would offer increased height and density bonuses for projects in areas that already qualify for such bonuses under existing rules.

The additional bonuses, Muenzer said, would be 10 percent in height, 10 percent in floor area and 20 percent in density.

City staff “did quite a bit of research on comparable communities,” Muenzer said, “and we felt this was reflective of what other communities that have inclusionary housing ordinances are doing.”

When the subsidized housing plan was last discussed, at a Planning and Development Committee meeting April 27, some aldermen voiced concerns that the proposed amendments to the city’s existing inclusionary housing ordinance would discourage new housing construction here.

The amendments would have expanded coverage of the ordinance from condominium developments with 25 or units to all multifamily developments with five or more units. It would also increase the fee required of developers from $40,000 to $100,000 for every 10 units in a project.

Even affordable housing advocates, speaking during public comment at the Planning and Development Committee meeting two weeks ago, called for increasing the incentives available to make development more attractive.

No condo projects that would have been covered by the ordinance have been proposed in Evanston since the inclusionary housing ordinance was adopted nearly a decade ago — but that’s also coincided with a sharp downturn in the overall condo market.

Muenzer says the revised proposal also raises the size threshold for projects that would be covered from five units to 10 units and it would vary the fee charged developers — reducing it to $75,000 per 10 units in zoning districts where the density bonus allowances were not available.

He said that with the latest changes the ordinance should have a “negligible impact” on the return on investment from new development projects.

He said developers typically make a 15 to 20 percent return on their investment and that the ordinance would only reduce that by one to one-and-a-half percentage points.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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