Plan Commission gets downtown office proposal

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Evanston’s Plan Commission this evening is scheduled to review plans for a high-rise office tower in the 600 block of Davis Street downtown.

The proposal, from Vermilion Development, calls for a 19-story building with ground floor retail, a second level devoted to parking, 16 floors of offices and a top floor devoted to mechanical uses.

The building would have a total height of 252 feet and would also include a ground-floor drive thru for Chase Bank.

The site has been under consideration for develoment since at least 2016 and was initiatlly proposed as a residential apartment building that in one iteration would have been 33 stories tall.

That plan was rejected by the City Council in 2018.

The developer returned in 2019 with plans for an office tower on the site. Those plans initially called for renovating the landmarked University Building at 601 Davis, on the corner of Chicago Avenue.

But the latest plans would leave the University Building unchanged, and the address of the project has been changed to 605 Davis St. to reflect that.

The developers are requesting several variations from setback requirements in the zoning code.


A chart from the developer’s proposal packet.

They argue that to provide a space for a similar number of office workers and meet the setback requirements the building would have to be roughly twice as tall.

Some city officials have argued that Evanston needs at least one large new office building to attract more daytime customers for downtown retail businesses.

But aldermen have failed to agree on a proposal to build an office tower at another downtown site — the city-owned parking lot at 1714 Chicago Ave.

The city’s Design and Project Review Committee has recommended approval of the Vermilion Development proposal, with some conditions.

The Plan Commission tonight is also scheduled to continue its review of plans for a five-story, 68-unit apartment building at 1555 Ridge Ave.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at the Civic Center.

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