Neighbors and downtown business owners packed the back room at Prairie Moon Tuesday evening to hear about plans to replace the restaurant with a 16-story residential tower.

Andrew Yule.

Andrew Yule and other members of the Albion Residental development team fielded questions about the project, which focused on the usual concerns about parking, traffic, the building’s height and design, and whether there was sufficient market demand to fill the planned apartments and storefronts.

One woman said she worried about the safety of children who walk to school along Lake Street past the alley abutting the CTA viaduct that now provides an exit for Prairie Moon patrons.

Yule said because of those concerns — and the fact that an easement would permit the CTA to close the alley to conduct track repairs — his plans call for only having the building’s loading docks accessed from the alley.

Cars going into the building’s garage instead would use an existing curb cut off Sherman Avenue now used by Prairie Moon patrons.

The two large pillars proposed to support the cantilevered south end of the tower above a corner pocket park came in for criticism from some residents, as did the wavey design of the tower itself.

But in contrast to neighborhood meetings for some other development projects, there also were signs of at least qualified support for the project — from merchants who hoped the building’s tenants would increase retail traffic at the south end of downtown and from some neighbors as well.

Robert Strom.

Prairie Moon owner Robert Strom said he favored the project and hoped to open a new restaurant in the new building, as did one of the owners of Tommy Nevins, the other long-time restaurant on the block that would be replaced by the new tower.

Don Wilson.

Alderman Don Wilson, whose 4th Ward includes the property, said getting more information about occupancy levels in recently built rental developments will be one of many questions city officials will need to answer as the project goes through the city’s approval process.

The developers said 78 percent of the 298 unit project will be studio or one bedroom apartments with relatively small unit sizes designed to make them at least relatively affordable to young professionals, and that the development would be unlikely to increase demand on local schools.

The project calls for 192 parking spaces.

Approval as designed would require a variety of planned development zoning allowances — which are permitted, with City Council approval, under the city’s inclusionary housing and transit-oriented development policies.

The developers plan to contribute $3 million to the city’s affordable housing fund.

Formal review of the project would start with a Design and Project Review committee meeting, which has not yet been scheduled, followed by a Plan Commission hearing, before the project could reach the City Council. That process typically takes a minimum of three to six months.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. building proposal for Sherman

    The headline misrepresents why people packed the room. Most were there to object to this monstrosity of a building   Your article favors those with business interests and minimizes the legitimacy of as you put it “usual concerns” of the population 

    1. Sherman

      Hi Yvette,

      Sorry you’re unhappy. But the story is accurate. And your description of the building as a “monstrosity” certainly reveals your bias.

      Anybody who wants to listen to nearly two hours worth of audio recording of the meeting to help form their own opinion can contact me by email at for a copy.

      — Bill

    2. to Yvette Meltzer

      Hi Yvette, I was at the meeting as well (the entire time) and would disagree with your interpretation of the crowd as well. While there was some negativity, there was also very much positivity. Take your blinders off, please, and listen to what’s around you.

      1. It looks like an interesting

        It looks like an interesting design, and it is the right location for dense, transit-oriented development. Judging by the experience at the E2 development, they probably won’t need even that many parking spaces. I hope this goes forward.

  2. Gorgeous!

    The new design looks beautiful! And it sure to be a boon to the economy in that part of town. Keeping my fingers crossed!

    1. Onward and… upward…

      Evanston like it or not is growning up. As with all beautiful places once the word is out everyone wants in. This area of town could use a beautifuly designed building – which will stretch the ‘downtown’ area south. Onward and well… upward…

      1. Agreed! Build away

        Love to see that investors and developers are continuing to add density downtown – this is what a downtown intended for.

        Evanston is not a small town, and shouldn’t think like one. It’s a vibrant, robust small city made up of bucolic neighorhoods and a thriving, transit-connected central business district. Projects like this ensure that the upwards trajectory of our city’s economy will continune, and I for one welcome the development with open arms. 

  3. I hate the pillars

    My only concern with this building is those pillars, which are huge, permanent, and are sure to look ugly and crappy over time.  Hoping for a redesign!

    1. I love the pillars

      Funny I love the pillars and the archetecturally interesting details of the building. 

    2. Agreed…pillars are offputing

      I’m not a fan of the pillars and the overhang of the tower because I think it will feel overbearing to pedestrians.  I’ve noticed that my favorite blocks to shop on and stroll along in Evanston are the ones where the tall towers don’t overwhelm you. Sometimes the towers are set back which helps.  This design does the opposite…rather than being set back from the base, it overhangs it.  I love the block as it is, but understand that higher density would be good for businesses, I just hope the overhang and pillars will be reconsiderd.

  4. Without a doubt, the artist
    Without a doubt, the artist rendering of the building shows the ugliest new building I have ever seen. I take no stand in the decision on the project unless the artist was accurate.

    1. Tall buildings and the cars that they bring

      I don’t live near where this building is going to be built. I live where all of the cars that it brings will be sitting bumper to bumper. Has it ever occrurred to any one that the City needs a comprehensive traffic plan? Has it ever occurred to anyone at City Hall that Evanston’s streets are inadequate to meet the growing number of cars that they invite to live here?  Why is it that the National Traffic Safety Institute at Northwestern University has so little to do with Evanston? Did anyone ever ask what they thought about their hometown? With all the urban planners on the City staff, one would think that theri might be some urban planning going on. With all of the cars, it’s clear, Evanston isn’t really concerned about the enviornment that it’s creating for it’s citizens. We are overwhelmed with traffic on our main streets. It appears to me that the most important thing to the city government is tax revenue and profits for developers while operating on the pretext of warm and fuzzy plattitudes regarding their concern for Mother Earth. It’s sad really, but not surprising. Evanston really isn’t much different than most places that say one thing and do another. It’s just better at it.

      1. Getting NU involved

        You said “Why is it that the National Traffic Safety Institute at Northwestern University has so little to do with Evanston? Did anyone ever ask what they thought about their hometown? “

        You forget the Council, school Board and so many residents see NU as evil and are willing to spend== $$$ to hire firms and consultants outside the city—and let the dollars flow out.

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