Neighbors offered up the usual litany of complaints about a new Evanston residential development Wednesday night — too tall, not enough parking.

But at least neighbors of the proposed senior housing project at 1815 Ridge Ave. agreed that there is a need in town for more senior housing — unlike the neighbors a few blocks away who dispute the need for a new apartment complex at 831 Emerson St. that plans to target college students as tenants.

Many of the height complaints at Wednesday’s meeting at Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church came from residents of a six-story condo development across the street at 1800 Ridge, who will have their easterly views toward Lake Michigan partially obscured if the new senior housing is built.

They and some other neighbors also argued that the 64-parking spaces planned at the 165-unit development would be totally insufficient.

Michael McLean, with a map of downtown Evanston projected on the screen behind him.

Developer Michael McLean said none of the residents of the 45 memory care and assisted living units would be likely to have cars and that the estimated 100 employees — split across three shifts — would be strongly encouraged to car-pool or take mass transit to work.

“A lot of new parking built near train stations is under-utilized and overpriced,” McLean said.

At the nearby E2 development, McLean said, parking spaces are now being rented for $190 a month. “I’d rather have my employees keep that money and use public transportation,” he added.

He said the building would also provide shuttle buses and a car-sharing service to help residents get around town.

And he claimed that 50 percent of downtown Evanston residents don’t own a car, “so I do feel that 64 spaces are adequate for a population that we don’t expect to be driving regularly.”

In addition, the city’s zoning analysis indicates the development meets the city’s parking standards for a long-term care facility.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite.

The project is designed as a market-rate development, and McLean said he’s still negotiating with the city about a possible contribution to the city’s affordable housing fund.

He said subsidies for residents of the planned development are likely to be hard to come by — because Illinois has eliminated programs that would provide such aid.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, whose 2nd Ward includes the project site, said, “The city, in terms of affordable housing, is a comlete mess — a long way from where we need to be.”

“That’s not going to be solved with this project,” Braithwaite added, but he encouraged residents at the meeting “to be part of the dialogue” about affordable housing in the future.

Other issues raised at the meeting included objections to the noise of ambulances making emergency runs to the building and a suggestion that a pedestrian walkway or bike path should be added along the elevated railroad right-of-way at the east edge of the site.

The senior housing plan is tentatively scheduled for review by the city’s Design and Project Review Committee at 2:30 p.m. next Wednesday, Feb. 17, and by the Plan Commission at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 9. A packet with a full description of the planned development is available on the city’s website.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Bias?

    It may just be me but I sense an inherent bias in this article with the expression of "the usual litany of complaints". "Usual litany" means the same old, same old list of problems, complaints, worries, etc – it seems disparaging, IMO. I guess it would have seemed more appropriate to use "complaints" which doesn't imply a value judgment, IMO. One thing I really enjoy about this website iis information about Evanston and I expect it provide the readers with facts. Commentaries are reserved for the "Comments" section.

    1. No bias, just facts

      Hi L.P.,

      When the complaints are the same, I think it's fair to point out that the complaints are the same.

      If you'd been covering development issues in Evanston for a decade, as I have, you might have noticed the pattern.

      That the complaints are the same doesn't mean they are invalid.

      But it does provide a frame of reference for judging their prospects of leading to a different outcome by comparing how those complaints fared when raised against other developments in the recent past.

      — Bill

      1. As a reader of this blog for a decade

        Ha, if LP were a reader of this blog for a decade, as I have been, he may have come to appreciate Bill's biases and given up on commenting on them.

        Seriously though, at least one thing the developer said here that doesn't make a lot of sense is that if nearby parking spaces are renting at $190 per month, that seems to suggest high demand and lack of supply, not the opposite. Otherwise, the spaces would be renting for less. I'm generally sympathetic to the parking concern because I think most employees of this place will drive to work. While Evanston is well-served with public transportation, it's more oriented toward getting people to downtown Chicago than getting people to Evanston. (I'm assuming employees would come from a wide area, largely from the suburbs to the west or northwest or parts of Chicago, and would choose to drive rather than take a bus if they don't happen to live near the UP North line or Purple/Red lines.)

        1. Workers

          The developer is pledging to give preference in hiring to Evanston residents, with hopes that all hires may be Evanstonians. Assuming the project is approved, we'll get to see how that works out.

          It is still possible to rent a space at any of the city's downtown garages for $85 a month, so I'm not quite sure how E2 can be getting the claimed $190 for its spaces.

          — Bill

    2. Parking for senior housing
      As a neighbor across the street from the proposed senior living project, I’m not concerned about parking. White Hall Care Center in the suburbs handles it by offering free valet parking for visitors. I commend encouraging transit options. This project is close to so much public transit it only makes sense.

  2. Assisted living project

    my concern is the location. Ridge,Green Bay and Emerson is a difficult intersection as it is. Most residents who need assistance with daily living skills will still want to get out and walk.

    1. Iagree
      Terrible location for this type of home. People living in this location will feel trapped and completely dependent on others. A sad end for the elderly.

      1. Location

        Nan and Skip,

        Why do you imagine the residents would want or need to tackle the Ridge/Green Bay/Emerson intersection when downtown is an easy walk down Oak Avenue and Church Street? That's where the shopping is. And Hecky's delivers.

        — Bill

        1. Very to funny. I doubt that

          Very to funny. I doubt that you will find very many of our honorable aged population ordering ribs from Heckys. If I am wrong, assisted-living will take on a new level of assisting.

          I think that most will be taking the shuttle bus to downtown shopping.

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