The proposed "life sciences" building at 1740 Orrington Ave.

Developers of a “life sciences” tower proposed for the site of a vacant Burger King received a favorable recommendation from Evanston’s Land Use Commission Wednesday night.

Commission Chair Matt Rodgers said an office tower like this is something Evanston “desperately needs,” and “having a vacant, single floor fast food outlet” on Orrington Avenue near Northwestern University is simply not good for the city.

The proposed building, from Trammell Crow Company, would not only replace the Burger King at 1740 Orrington Ave., but also a three-story, six-unit apartment building to the south, across an alley from the Orrington Hotel.

Company principal officer Johnny Carlson explained that “life sciences” includes things such as artificial intelligence, therapeutics, material science and other laboratory and computer-related research and development.

While no tenants have been lined up yet for the Evanston tower, Carlson said Trammell Crow has already constructed two other “life sciences” buildings in Chicago.

“We built them and we filled them,” Carlson said.

The Land Use Commission actually voted on two different recommendations.

The first, to allow rezoning of the site, passed 9-0.

A second measure, specifying certain conditions which should be met, was approved 6-3.

Some of the 11 conditions include signing an agreement with the city for 100 spaces in a nearby city garage, limiting delivery hours, and agreeing to pay whatever the taxes would have been due if the building or any of its tenants ever go off the tax rolls as a nonprofit.

Those who voted “no” wanted more conditions imposed. For example, Commissioner Kiril Mirintchev said the building’s height should be reduced.

But commissioner Max Puchtel, in voting “yes” on both measures, said, “this particular area feels pretty blighted,” now with the boarded Burger King at a busy intersection.

The issue next goes to City Council’s Planning and Development Committee, and then to full Council. A final decision is expected in March.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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