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Music theater wins zoning approval

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Evanston aldermen Monday night gave quick approval to plans for a 500-seat music performance space on Davis Street.

The City Council approved a three foot increase in the permitted height, to 45 feet, and eliminated a required 10 foot setback from the alley.

The project, dubbed the Grace Music Theater, is being developed by long-time Evanston resident David Colker and would replace the existing Tom Thumb Hobbies & Crafts store at 1026 Davis St. and incorporate the adjacent StudioMedia Recording Company at 1030 Davis.

The developer's attorney, Gregg Graines, said the added height was needed to provide the best possible acoustics for the planned Grace Music Theater.

The plans had been approved by city staff July 13 and by the Plan Commission July 19 on a 4-3 vote.

Top: Attorney Gregg Graines describes the the project to aldermen on the Planning and Development Committee. Above: A floor plan showing how the new building would be linked to the existing recording studio property, and that the new building would include a small restaurant area facing Davis.

The aldermen also approved a last-minute change that would let the developer rent parking spaces for the venue at another location besides the city's Sherman Plaza garage, if a closer parking option should become available.

And, after being told that Alderman Don Wilson favored the project, the council voted to suspend the rules and give immediate approval to the zoning changes, rather than waiting to take a second vote in September. Wilson, whose 4th Ward includes the site, was absent from Monday's meeting.

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