Plans for the 35-story Fountain Square tower project received preliminary approval from the full Evanston City Council Monday — with the extension of time developers requested to begin construction.

No aldermen changed their votes from how they voted at the Planning and Development Committee special meeting on the tower last Tuesday.

Several residents opposed to the tower — all of whom have spoken against it at numerous meetings over the past two years — tried to used the last-minute construction-start extension request by the developers as a rationale for killing the project entirely or at least postponing a vote until after the city election next month.

But aldermen favoring the project, noting that the council last month approved construction start delays to 2013 for two other downtown developments, said the potential benefits of the project outweigh the uncertainty created by the extension.

The tower project is now scheduled for a final vote by the council on Monday, March 23. If approved, the developers would have until Dec. 31, 2013 to take out permits to begin construction.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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