Evanston’s Design and Project Review Committee has recommended approval of a proposed five-story, 116-unit apartment development on the site of the Autobarn Nissan dealership at 1012 Chicago Ave.

The city staff committee gave its approval at a Wednesday afternoon meeting where project architect William Rodon Hornof said the project would meet bird friendly standards by providing specially treated glass and perforated metal railings to reduce the chance disoriented birds will fly into the structure.

William Rodon Hornof.

City staff members raised several questions about details of the design. For example, City Arborist Michael Callahan asked how the developers planned to maintain trees proposed for small ground-level courtyards off live-work units that would face the CTA tracks.

“I like the idea of seeing more trees,” Callahan said, “but I’m not sure it’s feasible to maintain them.”

City Planner Cade Sterling generally praised the design of the building, saying it had “lots of strong horizontal and vertical lines” that make it visually interesting.

Cade Sterling.

But “that kind of falls apart on the first floor, which does not have as much visual interest,” Sterling said.

Hornof agreed that the first floor now is “kind of vanilla” and said there was more work to be done on developing the design at that level. He suggested that if the retail space was used for a restaurant “we could do doors that would fold open” to provide an outdoor space within the building footprint.

Sterling said that he believed the 58 underground parking spaces proposed for the development “is appropriate considering the location and proximity to transit.”

The committee included several conditions with its unanimous recommendation for approval, including coordinating the streetscape work with he city’s Chicago Avenue Streetscape Project, limiting deliveries to periods outside of rush hour and the overnight hours and providing an updated public benefits proposal.

The next stop for the project is the city’s Plan Commission and, as a planned development, it will ultimately require City Council approval.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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