The owner of the first building west of the Howard CTA station in Evanston plans to convert its 12 second-floor offices to nine apartments.

In his application to the city for a zoning variation, owner Ted Hortis says it’s been difficult to lease the space because of a lack of demand for offices in the area.

He’s asking for a waiver of the city’s requirement that the apartments need to provide 12 parking spaces, arguing that the location next to the rapid transit station and bus depot means tenants won’t need to have cars to get around.


The building, constructed in the 1920s, completely fills the lot, leaving no room for parking on site, Hortis says.

Evanston has been experimenting recently with reducing parking requirements for so-called transit-oriented developments near train stations, including allowing the developers of a new high-rise at 1571 Maple Ave. to lease parking spaces in the city-owned Maple Avenue garage two blocks away to meet most of that project’s parking requirement.

The variation request for the Howard Street project is to be reviewed by the city’s Design and Project Review Committee this afternoon, ahead of a hearing before the Zoning Board of Appeals.

While Hortis is hoping for an easier time renting apartments than offices at the site, the adjacent three-story building at 327-339 Howard currently has several apartment units available for lease.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Evidence parking not needed?

    This is at least the second proposed building that assumes renters/owners will not need cars because they are so close to public transportation.

    Has a study been done to determine if this is true for buildings that have already been put up ? e.g. Optima Horizons 800 Elgin, Optima Views 1720 Maple or many other apartments, condos or even houses [yes many houses have only one or two adults] within three blocks ?  Actually since many take CTA/Metra, the distance could be up to ½ mile.

    I would be very surprised if they have patterns of lower car use than anyone else.  They still go out at night, weekends, shopping, etc..

    If the premise is false, you could wind up with a lot more parking problems.  Around the Maple and Davis building, yes maybe they can find some street or off-street parking, but 327 Howard ? I doubt it.

    1. Garage?

      Of course there is a big parking garage adjacent to the Howard station at 7474 N. Rogers Ave. in Chicago.

      Not familiar with whether it offers monthly rates, like Evanston's garages do.

      — Bill

    2. 23% of Evanston households don’t own cars

      If you look at the recent American Community Survey from the US Census, the percentage of Evanston households without cars is up to about 23%. I think it rose from 17% in 2012. The downtown garages at peak times rarely reach 80% capacity. The age of every adult owning his/her own private automobile is over. Ride sharing apps like Uber & Lift coupled with better infrastructure for walking and cycling is resulting in a reduction in vehicle miles travelled

    3. Whose call?

      None of it matters.

      If someone is willing to rent in a building with no parking, then it's their call.

      1. Howard St.

        That's definitely not the area I would want to walk around at night, trying to find a parking space….nor would I want my kids walking around there at night, either.

        1. Things are changing, naffa

          Hello Naffa,

          Due the increase in commercial establishments and other quality of life improvements in that stretch of Howard Street, things are changing for the better. 

          It may still be a bit of a "frontier" right now but in five years, that stretch of Howard Street near the CTA station will be a thriving area where many people will want to live due the proximity of public transit and the mix of shopping and entertainment.

          1. Howard Street area in the ’70s

            People around north Rogers Park including Howard will remember in the early '70s Howard Street not only had promise but had a decent and improving environment.  There was a small gourmet restaurant [Howard and Glenwood] run by [I think a lawyer] who enjoyed cooking and had an ever changing menu of gourmet [but reasonably priced] dinners, a moderate priced but ‘yuppie’ health foods, and a number of other good shops.  There were a number of decent to good restaurants and a bar run by a law student that showed movies, had a football night and came close to a neighborhood version of a Division Street singles bar and Biddy Mulligans which was as good as Division.  Who can forget Peking Duckling [to which movie stars like Bob Hope and John Wayne went to the Mexican restaurant which though simple won awards including the best Mexican restaurant in Chicago—even though on Paulina north of Howard.

            Clearly part north of Howard like Juneway Terrace were not good—and who could forget the drug emporium at the Yacht Club at Rogers Park and the lake.  Areas along the lake through Glenwood—at least—were nice and an expected move by young professionals was expected [along with higher prices] to occur—for the most part did not and those trying to get in on it probably lost a lot.  

          2. They said the same thing 20

            They said the same thing 20 years ago and nothing much has changed. It is a nice thought with the 5 year time frame. Miracles still happen.

          3. Howard St.

            I hope so…I've been around Evanston since the 1950s…..best things about that street was The Fish Keg and Dairy Queen which were westward……(and the Pickle Barrel)…..There is much to develop, but the main areas of attraction still seem to be the downtown and Central St. areas……here's hopin' !

  2. Wait for results?

    According to this article, " Evanston has been experimenting recently with reduced parking requirements for so-called transit-oriented developments near train stations…"

    I had hoped that the city would have waited to see the results of the other *experiments* being built without adequate on-site parking, most notably the one on Maple and the one on Main/Chicago.  At this point one can only guess how successful this concept will prove.

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