Evanston's Plan Commission voted 7-0 this evening to approve a 12-story mixed use rental building at 1571 Maple Ave. that had been strenuously opposed by residents of the neighboring One Evanston condominium tower.
The commissioners concluded that the planned development project meets the provisions of the city's comprehensive plan and zoning code and was generally consistent with the downtown plan.
Residents of One Evanston had argued that the project fails to comply with the downtown plan — but were hampered in making that case by the fact that the City Council has never adopted zoning changes that would implement various changes called for in that plan — including new height limits for the development site.
Associate Commissioner Stuart Opdycke, who was involved in the lengthy process of adopting the downtown plan several years ago, said he believes the development does meet one of its key goals — preventing the canyonization of Davis Street — by limiting the building's height to three-stories along the Davis frontage and providing commercial storefronts there.
"I think it is in compliance with the intent of the Plan Commission when we established this traditional district," Opdyche said.
And Commissioner Jim Ford noted that the downtown plan also proposed raising the height limit for the property just south of One Evanston to as much as 190 feet.
The project contains an unusual feature. While it will have 101 residential units, it will provide only 13 parking spaces on site, and those will be available for shoppers at nearby retail businesses during the day.
In addition, the developer will lease 101 parking spaces in the city's underutilized Maple Avenue parking garage two blocks to the north — which will generate more than $100,000 a year in additional parking revenue to the city.
The developer has argued that the unconventional parking arrangement, along with the relatively small unit sizes in the project, will encourage people who don't have cars and either walk or commute to work using the nearby rail stations to become tenants in the building.
To move forward, the project still requires approval by the City Council's Planning and Development Committee and the full City Council.
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