Neighbors who fought plans for a six-story mixed use condo building at 1001 Chicago Ave. to a standstill seemed happier today with a new proposal from the developer for 3.5-story townhouses on the site.

A view of the townhomes as they would look from Chicago Avenue. 

The new plan from developer Greg Greif of Greif Properties of Chicago would build 21 townhomes on the site at the northeast corner of Chicago Avenue and Lee Street.

The development would be split into three north-south oriented rows of townhomes with the first row facing Chicago Avenue.
A 24-foot private alley would separate the first and second rows, and a 15-foot private walkway would separate the second and third rows.

Richard Weiland of 1012 Hinman Ave. told the city’s Site Plan and Appearance Review Committee, “I certainly prefer to see a four-story rather than a six-story building across the alley from me.”

Todd Parrish of 1033 Hinman Ave. said he believed the developer “has done a good job of addressing some of the density issues.”

The site plan for the new development. 

But he and other neighbors voiced concern about possible traffic congestion in the alley and difficulty owners of the new townhomes might have getting in and out of garages which are planned to be built less than a foot from the alley lot line.

There was some confusion at the meeting about whether a setback from the alley is required, with Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, saying she believed some setback was required but city zoning staffers voicing doubt about the rules.

The property is zoned C1a and is separated from residentially zoned property by a public alley. Section 6-10-3-8 of the Evanston zoning code says that such property requires a 10-foot rear yard setback.

Mr. Greif said the units would range in size from 2,200 to 3,700 square feet and would be priced from $500,000 to $700,000.

The earlier plan for the site called for 65 condo units that would have ranged in price from $265,000 to $400,000.

Committee Chair Walter Hallen noted repeatedly that the project closely resembles the Dubin townhome development at Chicago Avenue and South Boulevard, which was also built as of right.

Although that project has come in for sharp criticism for its design from Ald. Wynne and others, there were no issues raised about the comparison at the meeting.

The new buildings would be slab-on-grade construction. All but one of the units would have two-car garages on the first level, the exception would have a 1.5 car garage.

Community Development Director James Wolinski said that because the project has less than 25 units and the lot is less than 20,000 square feet, it does not require approval by the Plan Commission or City Council.

Since it’s not a planned development, the new project is not covered by the city’s affordable housing requirements, but Mr. Wolinski said he “would like to see some kind of donation” by the developer to the affordable housing fund.

The committee voted preliminary approval for the project, subject to resolving a few issues including compliance with the city’s Chicago Avenue streetscape plan.

The project will need to return to the committee for final approval after the developer requests building permits.

Mr. Greif said he anticipated it would take 14 to 16 months to complete construction of the project once it’s approved by the city.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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