A plan unveiled Tuesday night to bring Northlight Theatre back to Evanston calls for funding the project with a 395-foot-tall hotel and rental apartment tower in the 1700 block of Sherman Avenue.

How the height of the proposed building would compare with existing downtown towers — the tallest of which, the 277-foot 1603 Orrington bulding, was completed nearly a half-century ago, in 1969.

The proposed height is 10-feet taller than the revised height of the 38-story 708 Church Street condominium tower approved by City Council in 2009. (That project had originally been proposed to be 49 stories tall.) The 708 Church project was never built after aldermen in 2013 refused to give the developers an extension of time to begin construction.

The preliminary design from architects Skidmore Owings & Merrill for the new project call for a base roughly the height of the former Marshall Field’s store that adjoins it to the south.

The base would include the theater space as well as room for a restaurant and five floors of parking for a total of 258 cars.

Above that would be 11 stories devoted to a boutique hotel with a projected 153 rooms.

Above that there’d be 20 floors with a total of 152 rental apartments, averaging about 1,000 square feet in size.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Sherman Ave Isn’t Michigan Ave

    Wouldn’t it be cheaper and more aesthetically pleasing if someone would simply restore the Varsity?

    1. Prioritization Seems Off….

      Evanston already has more than its fair share of empty store fronts, restaurant locations on their 4th or 5th iterations and vacancies in rental properties.  Who is accountable for figuring this issue out?  Seems that this should be prioritized over building massive high rises in a relatively small downtown….

      1. This development would

        This development would ideally help that problem. People shop at stores less and less… and retail is no longer a reliable driver of foot traffic. A theater with this many patrons would pull in a great deal of folk to downtown Evanston. They’d have to eat somewhere and they just might buy something. 

  2. How can I support this project?

    This is the best idea for downtown in a long time! Foot traffic, an arts facility that doesn’t want city money, and retail space that isn’t small and outdated. This project is win-win. Put me down as an enthusiastic YES!

    1. What are people thinking?

      If a building – or group of buildings were to go up that looked like the rendering (as stunning as it is), the rest of downtown Evanston would look shabby, small, and outdated. Then we’d have people – perhaps even “Proud alum” – crying to tear down the rest of the town to match the new building. What are people thinking?  How often do people who support building that tower in downtown Evanston attend Northwestern’s theaters?  How often do they attend other local theater groups’ performances here?  How often do they attend theater in nearby venues that are even less attractive? There are several and they are often nominated for Jeff awards. There are no towers. Heck, in some they are in buildings that look like former little warehouses or storefronts.

      I don’t know what Evanston is trying to do.  We’re tearing down the library parking lot to make an office building that Evanston Now promises will bring in new businesses (offices that supposedly will be full). And, even with that new building, we seem to be subtly threatened with the loss of Whole Foods if we don’t add hundreds of additional renters or condo owners in yet another new building – a tower no less, Just to support a theatre group that might be interested in leaving its current site. Really?

      I’d like to end on a brighter note…. I’d like to thank the traffic planners for the Green Bay Rd/ Golf Rd/Emerson intersection. It’s beautiful and has made a huge difference in traffic flow and safety for autos and people on foot. It was worth the headaches during the construction.

      1. Free parking at Northlight

        Hopefully, Northlight patrons will continue to enjoy free parking while attending productions, as they have now at the Skokie site.

      2. The threatened loss of Whole Foods Makes no sense!

        To threaten that we will lose Whole Foods if we don’t add more people downtown makes no sense! That store has been there for as long as I can remember – over 20 years! And think of all the condos and apartment buildings we have added in downtown over that time. If Whole Foods wants to leave, it’s probably because they see big $$$$ in getting the downtown residents to order their groceries online. I say — let them leave and lets get another small format grocery to take over the space.

        1. Whole Foods

          Whole Foods did not have other locations in Evanston at the time they opened downtown so saying they’ve been there over 20 years means nothing.  They have now closed their location on Chicago Avenue across from Jewel/Osco and opened their location on Green Bay Road at the Wilmette border (where Dominicks used to be housed).  I’m sure rent at the Green Bay Road location is cheaper than what they pay downtown and more of a draw than the downtown location.  I could see them closing very easily especially with their recent acquisition by Amazon and getting down to one Evanston location.  Building a tower with additional apartments is no justification for keeping Whole Foods in downtown Evanston.

  3. This is horrible! How can

    This is horrible! How can they even think to destroy those beautiful vintage buildings on that stretch of Sherman Avenue?

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