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Neighbors split on Noyes development plan

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Neighbors Wednesday night gave mixed reviews at an Evanston Plan Commission meeting to a four-story, 44-unit mixed use development at 824 Noyes St.

The project has undergone some changes at the demand of city staff since it was first unveiled — including switching to an all-brick facade from the original proposal for a mix of brick and fiber-cement siding.

Developer Greg DeStefano said that change adds $250,000 to the cost of the $11 million project. But he said he ended up favoring another change recommended by the staff — that he shave off the peaks of the existing one-story building's brick cornice to provide better views out the new building's second-story front windows.

What the building design looked like in May, before the latest changes.

DeStefano plans to preserve the front and side walls of the existing buiding, which once housed the Noyes Street Cafe, and build the new structure setback from those walls to reduce demolition costs and comply with  current setback requirements.

Michael Tanner.

Michael Tanner of 1015 Noyes St. said he feared the project would add density to the neighborhood and that it would become "a high-end dormitory" for Northwestern University students.

Jane Evans.

Jane Evans of 811 Gaffield Place, said she feared residents of the new building would cut through the alley to her street to avoid the traffic light on Noyes at Sherman Avenue.

"That parcel should be redeveloped," Evans said, "but why does it have to be so big?"

Mimi Roeder.

But Mimi Roeder of 2235 Sherman Ave. said she was pretty impressed by the project and would be thrilled to have a restaurant back at the site.

"I think this will have good economic benefits," Roeder said, "I'm thrilled to know that affordable housing is included and I'm delighted by the design."

At the request of another neighbor, Barbara Janes of 802 Colfax St., the Plan Commission postponed action on the proposal until its next meeting, on Wednesday, Aug. 10.

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