Evanston’s Plan Commission voted unanimously Wednesday night to recommend the City Council approve a planned development to construct a four-story, 47-unit rental apartment development at 1620 Central St.

The property is now the site of a vacant office building that several years ago was proposed to be turned into a dormitory for students in a program for developmentally disabled young adults run by National Louis University.

The existing building at 1620 Central.

Architect John Myefski at an earlier public meeting on the project.

Plan Commission members praised efforts made by project architect John Myefski and other members of the development team to accommodate concerns of neighbors in townhouses and single family homes adjacent to the site as well as the generally collaborative response from the neighbors.

Those accommodations include creating a 15-foot easement along the east edge of the property to provide four adjoining single-family homes with alley-like access for garages they might build behind their homes at some time in the future.

A map showing the development site and nearby properties.

Remaining concerns from neighbors largely focused on worries that the project — which includes 54 underground parking spaces — would have insufficient parking to avoid creating congestion in what the neighbors said is an area that’s already short on parking.

But the commissioners were persuaded by arguments from the developer that a “transit-oriented development” just two blocks from the Central Street Metra station would attract tenants who on average would have no more than one car per household.

They declined to add a condition to the approval that would have required the building owner to enforce car ownership limits among its tenants.

Related stories

Aldermen to consider zoning change on Central (11/23/14)

Central Street exceptionalism called into question (8/13/14)

47-unit development planned for Central (6/27/14)

College plans dorm on Central Street (12/7/07)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Insufficient parking? Where?

    Let's see now. A high rise apartment on Maple with essentially no on site parking, but with a lot over two blocks away. A high rise on Main & Chicago with grossly insufficient parking which is currently under construction, again with parking blocks away. Both areas VERY congested, much more so than Central yet the Central building will provide on site parking for all *54* units and then some. In all cases, arguments go that all the buildings are near public transportation and thus, on Central, probably only one car per unit vs. on the other two sites, people with little to no need of a car. What's grossly wrong with this picture?!

    1. Free parking is not a right

      Residents do not have a right to free street parking at the expense of a viable, walkable, mixed use area near transit. If the market does not support construction of more off-street parking, why should the city mandate it just to preserve your ability to park on the street for free?

      1. Inequity

        My comments, Bob, had to do with the inequity of the proposed Central Street apartments with more than enough on site parking vs. the insufficient or non-existent on site (*not* free on street) parking for proposed apartments on Maple as well as the under construction apartments on Main/Chicago.

        IMO, one would be naive and short-sighted to buy a house or a condo in a congested area which offered no parking on site for owners even if one felt one would need a car. Just try resell that residence!  Now, why should many people want an apartment with parking blocks away knowing about Chicago winters, the quirks of fate (broken leg, sick child, age issues, etc.), the necessity of buying consumables, like groceries, and so on? OK, maybe a person/family would lease such an apartment for a year, say, what concerns me is that it'd end up being a "fool me once" issue.

        I could be mistaken in my assumption, of course, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Hopefully, I am wrong and Evanston will not end up eating humble pie with all the unwanted consequences that might ensue.

        1. Inequality?

          Forgive me if I don't agree with your point. Do you have a grievance here?  Do you feel we must socially engineer these projects so everyone gets a garage space?  Is someone slighted here?  Those that live in Maple and Chi/Main willingly bought in.what business is it of ours… Yours?

          1. Ulterior motive?

            For one reason or another, people that post online comments seem to think that they know more about the real estate market than those willing to invest millions of dollars in the project. L.P. has determined that only a fool would rent in a building without parking, even one near 2 busy transit stops. The developer, the bank, the architect, and others with money on the line clearly disagree.  

            I suspect there is more at play here. As I alluded in my previous post, when people have been parking on the street for free for years, there is a strong desire to push new residents to lease a parking spot so that they can continue to enjoy their free parking. 

          2. Just asking

            Bob, do you own a car, do you have a driveway with garage(s)?  Do you live near a metra or L station?  Cars are a necessity today, like horses and mules were 150 years ago, and they have to be "housed" and fed! 

        2. diversity, not inequity

          Evanston always talks about diversity, but that diversity doesn't simply apply to a persons race or sexual orientation. It also applies to diversity in lifestyles. Some people apparently think everybody lives as they do, and therefore are having a hard time understanding those who do not live as they do.

          Your comments that peoples choices are "naive and shortsighted" to buy a house or condo with little or no parking is example of that. Why should someone who has no need for a car, pay for a parking space, something they simply do not need? They don't worry about sick children, they have no children, they buy but one bag of groceries at a time, not a trunkful, and like you said, "and so on" and on and on.

          So these development proposals carry no inequity, they simply address a market that you simply don't relate to, lifestyle needs that have different requirements than yours. Nothing wrong with yours, nothing wrong with theirs, but they are not fools and have no need for your well meaning concern over the resale value of their property.

          The idea that seems so prevelant in Evanston, that those with traditional suburban lifestyles can demand everything be built to meet their "traditional suburban" needs is unjustified. Evanston is urban and like it or not, our future inexorably lies in further urbanization.

          And that means infrasturcture built that meets the needs of those who have little or no need for a car. IMO, that is rational, forward thinking that embraces our future. I'm happy to see that most of our elected officials and City management have come to that understanding and are willing to make decisions meeting the needs of those diverse lifestyles.  And at heart, that's really very Evanston thinking.

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