The developer who won city approval in 2007 to build condos on the old Evanston Theater site on Central Street met with Central Street Neighbors Association members Tuesday night to describe his plans to construct rental apartments there instead.
About 50 people turned out for the meeting, held at the Evanston Ecology Center, to hear the developer, Robert D. Horne, president of Dodge Capital LLC, and his architect, Michael L. Breclaw of OKW Architects, describe the proposed four-story property that would include 78 apartments, 11,500 square feet of retail space (enough for four to eight businesses, depending upon size), and 78 off-street parking spaces for residents.
An additional 31 parking spaces would be available nearby in the Ryan Field parking lot for customers of the retail businesses, Horne said, under an arrangement with the city, which controls 100 spaces there through an agreement with Northwestern University.
The dimensions of the building are essentially compatible with the structure approved by the city in 2007, although it varies slightly from the requirements of the Central Street plan enacted subsequently by the city that would not apply.
The new structure, however, is expected to comply with new environmental regulations. Architect Breclaw said the new design is expected to earn LEEDS Silver certification, resulting in a more energy-efficient design than the condominium plan.
Top: A rendering of the new design for the project. Above: Residents listen to the presentation.
In the question period following the presentation, residents asked about setbacks, traffic impacts, parking, and alley access, but the tone of the meeting fell short of being adversarial, and comments by attendees after the meeting were generally favorable to the plan.
One nearby business owner complained that, since the old buildings were demolished, his walk-in traffic has virtually disappeared. “I look forward to the completion of this project,” he said.
Helping to mollify dissent was the developer’s estimate that tax revenue from the new building would be in the range of $350,000 – $400,000 annually, compared with $12,000 – $15,000 currently as vacant land and about $110,000 before the old buildings were demolished.
The 78 apartments will range from studios to three-bedroom units, with monthly rentals expected to be in the $1,900 – $2,300 range. The city’s requirements for affordable housing units do not apply to rental buildings, according to Dennis Marino, manager of planning and zoning for the city, who attended the meeting along with Sixth Ward Alderman Jane Grover.
Horne predicted that many tenants would work for Evanston Hospital or would be graduate students at Northwestern.
The building would also appeal to commuters, due to its location between the Central Street Metra and CTA stations. It is also on the No. 201 CTA bus line that connects downtown Evanston with the Old Orchard shopping center in Skokie.