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New bike lanes raise safety concern at Evanston Place

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Representatives of Aimco, the owner/operator of the Evanston Place apartments, say the new bike path in front of its downtown building has created a safety hazard for residents and visitors. 

Tje view of the bike lane from the building’s front entrance.

The company presented a preliminary plan for a redesign of the building’s plaza and front entranceways to Evanston’s Design and Project Review Committee Wednesday.

A rendering of the proposed redesigned plaza in front of the building entry.

The main purpose of the redesign is to deter pedestrians from walking from the front door and straight down to Chicago Avenue, because there’s no sidewalk at the curb — just the bike lanes and then the road. Before the street was redesigned to add the bike lanes, there was a narrow sidewalk just behind the curb.

Aimco wants to create an enhanced gathering space in front of the building and use shrubs and benches to block easy access to Chicago Avenue.  The proposal includes better lighting and pathways to help direct pedestrians to the crosswalks at Church and Clark Streets.

A proposed design for enhanced landscaping at the Clark Street end of the block-long building.

While DAPR committee members applauded Aimco for investing in the building and working to improve safety and aesthetics, a number of concerns were raised about the plan. 

Using the city right of way in front of the apartment building for hardscaping was the main issue, as that is the area where utilities are accessed. That means whatever is built there may have to be torn up periodically for emergency work or even maintenance.

DAPR members asked Aimco’s designers to have some discussions with city engineers and public work and safety officials to adjust the plan to minimize any impact on utility access, and then come back to the committee for another discussion.

The Aimco officials say they hope to begin the remodeling of the plazas and pedestrian walkways next spring.

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