[VIDEO] Evanston aldermen will face a new issue when plans for the 35-story tower project on the Fountain Square block go before the full City Council Monday.

The tower’s developers last week told Interim City Manager Rolanda Russell they want to extend the proposed deadline for starting construction on the building to the end of 2013.

The attorney for the developers, Steve Friedland, said in a letter to Russell that the aldermen moved to vote on the project at last Tuesday’s special Planning and Development Committee meeting before the developers could raise the construction delay issue.

During the construction boom, developers typically agreed to start construction within a year after the planned development ordinance approving a project was approved.

But as the economy has cooled several developers have sought extra time to begin construction, and the council last month approved extensions until the summer and fall of 2013 for high-rise projects at 1890 Maple Ave. and 1881 Oak Ave.

At Saturday’s aldermanic forum, 1st Ward Alderman Cheryl Wollin said she’d still have voted for the tower project last week, even if she’d known about the construction delay, and her challenger, Judy Fiske, said it added another reason for her opposition to the project.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. What Changed in Two Days?
    I watched the entirety of the March 3 P&D meeting. Contrary to the assertion in Steve Friedland’s letter (developers’ attorney), the 708 Church developers had ample opportunity to bring up the fact that they wanted a four-year deviation from the requirements of Evanston’s Zoning Code, which would allow them until Dec. 31, 2013 to obtain a building permit. Evanston’s Zoning Code mandates a one-year time period to obtain a building permit from the time the ordinance is approved, although developers are free to seek extensions, as we have seen repeatedly in recent months.
    At the same March 3 P&D meeting, developer Tim Anderson stated that he anticipated full occupancy of the 708 Church condo development by 2015. Then, on March 5, after P&D had already voted to recommend the plan to Council (themselves), Friedland emailed a letter to Rolanda Russell asking (for the first time) for the extension to the end of 2013 to get a building permit. He asked Ms. Russell to include his letter in the aldermanic packets aldermen would receive Friday in preparation for the March 9 Council meeting.
    In the same letter, Friedland asked for 30 months after receiving the building permit to complete construction.
    If these developers don’t receive the building permit until the end of 2013–which they must anticipate as a likely scenario–and then they take 30 months for construction, the building would be completed (barring the inevitable construction delays) in mid 2016.
    How does this timetable square with developer Anderson’s assertion on March 3–two days before his attorney’s letter to the City–that full occupancy was likely to be achieved in 2015.
    Does anyone else sense smoke and mirrors?

    1. I don’t see smoke and
      I don’t see smoke and mirrors. I see meat and potatoes. This is all about the future income streams of the development team. As for us, we someday might get money from the thing; but probably long after this web site is disbanded and all the Anonymous Responders are rerouted to speaking anonymously to Really Important Things somewhere else.

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