The Evanston Plan Commission this evening voted to recommend approval of a proposed 14-story mixed-use building at 1890 Maple Ave.

1890 Maple plan

A rendering looking north on Maple. The proposed new building is on the left with the red awnings.  

The 6-0 vote came after developer Robert King met with representatives of Evanston Northwestern Healthcare, which owns the adjacent building at 1001 University Place.

The meetings led to several revisions to the 1890 Maple plans. Those include redesigning the garage entrances and widening the access drive from 17 to 21 feet to reduce potential traffic conflicts between the buildings.

The developer also agreed to design changes to reduce vibrations during construction that might affect research equipment used at the ENH site and to insulate apartments facing the ENH building from noise generated by ventilating equipment on its roof.

Ivan Kane, an attorney representing ENH, said his client still doesn’t support the new development but agreed that “we’ve had some good dialog” on the issues.

The Plan Commission said the new project fits well with the height context set for the area by the 18-story 1881 Oak condo project that the City Council approved last fall, despite a negative recommendation from the Plan Commission.

Commissioner David Galloway said, “The City Council has chosen to tell us that the actions we took on 1881 Oak were not to be respected. With the approval of that project the entire complexion of this area of Evanston has changed.”

“In light of that changed context and the high quality of this design and the good intentions and good execution” in addressing the issues raised by ENH, “I’m inclined to approve this project,” Mr. Galloway said.

Commissioner Stuart Updyche said, “This does not reflect the consensus of the downtown subcommittee of the Plan Commission” about what should be built on the edge of downtown. “However, Oak is a fact, and I think this proposal fits in rather nicely as a neighbor to the Oak building.”

“Oak is over and done with,” Commission Chairman James Woods said, “the City Council has approved it and established a new context. This design does almost everything that everybody asked of the previous project, so clearly the developer was listening. This project is well conceived and well designed.”

The project plan calls for about 40,000 square feet of retail space, 152 rental dwelling units, 313 off-street parking spaces and a building height of 158 feet.

The project has drawn sharp criticism from some residents of the 28-story Optima Views condo development at 1720 Maple Ave. and from other nearby residents. But other neighbors voiced strong support for the plans.

The project now advances to the City Council’s Planning and Development Committee.

Related stories

Planners cool to 1890 Maple high rise – Mar. 14

Lots of heat over Maple development – Feb. 22

Maple project has neighbors steaming – Jan. 5

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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