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Plans approved for Fountain Square Building rehab

After seven decades a centerpiece of the downtown area is to get a fresh appearance.

A rendering showing a street-level view of the renovated 1601 Sherman Ave. side of the building.

Evanston’s Design and Project Review Committee this week approved plans for a major restoration of the Fountain Square Building downtown.

The 1948 structure was built for the Maurice L. Rothschild department store chain but has been converted to mixed office and retail uses in recent years.

New owners of the property first presented preliminary plans for the project last November. This week’s review clears the way for issuance of building permits for the work.

A current view of the Sherman Avenue side of the building from Google Maps.

Jeff Shapack of developer Shapack Partners said the plans include restoring the building’s limestone facade and replacing al the window glass.

The circled area on the floor plan shows where the elevator core is now.

The plans also call for demolishing the existing elevator core on the Sherman Avenue side of the building and creating a new elevator core on the north end of the building.

A rendering of the Orrington Avenue side of the building.

Shapack said that will create much better visibility for the ground-floor retail spaces and provide a new main entrance to the offices on the upper floors from the Orrington Avenue side of the building, with an address of 1616 Orrington.

The plans also call for adding bird-friendly fritted glass protective railing to a balcony area on the top floor of the building.

Jeff Shapack.

During the meeting city staff urged that the developers pay to rebuild the brick sidewalk on the Orrington Avenue side of the building to meet current city standards, but Shapack objected to that, saying the development plans did not ask for any zoning relief from the city that would justify a city demand for public benefits and that the existing sidewalk in front of the building is the same as what exists on the rest of that block of Orrington.

The building is currently vacant, and Shapack says interior demolition work is already underway.

Related story

Rehab proposed for Fountain Square Building (11/23/20)

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