In a unanimous decision, the Preservation Commission Tuesday night gave a favorable recommendation to Vermilion Development’s proposal for a 33-story building at 601 Davis Street.

Commissioners did voice concerns about plans for openings on the fifth level of the new tower that would ventilate the parking garage but could make cars visible to people outside the building.

Commissioners said a view of cars at that level wouldn’t suit the streetscape. They also worried about light and noise pollution from the garage and wanted that design revisited.  

The Commission also asked for a detailed protection plan for the adjacent landmark two-story University Building to ensure it remains structurally sound during construction.

The preservation panel, which doesn’t typically get to review planned developments, did get to make a recommendation in this case because of the landmark building on the development site.

The meeting did not touch on controversial aspects of the proposal including zoning allowances needed for such a tall structure. Those issues will be addressed by the Design and Project Review Committee, the Plan Committee and the City Council.

In support of the project, Vermilion‘s director of residential real estate, Kerry Dickson, said it would mean an additional $1.4 million a year in property taxes for the city and schools and about 675 construction jobs.

Kerry Dickson of Vermilion Development speaking to the Preservation Commission.

Dickson said it will revitalize the area — replacing a vacant lot and a single-story bank drive-thru — and add more residents downtown, helping restaurants and retail shops.

The Design and Project Review Committee is scheduled to review the 601 Davis plans today when it meets at 2:30 p.m. in Room 2404 at the Civic Center.

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  1. Evanston Wind Tunnels [downtown]

    I assume the planners and architects examined the wind effect in all directions and combinations for the new proposed building [and hopefully did for existing high rises before being built] for strengths so we don’t have a “Galloping Gertie [Tacoma Bridge]”.

    But did they or experts [citation] do an analysis of the wind effects on Chicago Ave, Orrington and Sherman ?

    I don’t remember the immediate effect of the Chase building but at least when the Rotary went up [1977], Orrington became a full-fledged wind tunnel. Park Place, at least sometimes, makes Chicago Ave. from Church to Davis so bad that if on a bike you think you have a flat since you can hardly move.  I don’t recall Sherman from north part of Fountain Square to Church being bad until Sherman Plaza went up but then, at times, it is almost as bad as Orrington.

    I avoid Orrington as much as I can—even going to the Chase on Grove before it closed.

    With the proposed buildings it will have to be worse.  Evanston business does not need another factor keeping bikes/pedestrians out of downtown.

    I worked at Sears Tower and have to say downtown Evanston rivals the area around it for wind [though my route was mostly east/west and had plenty of building you could cut through.

    1. The little windy city??
      Yes, the wind tunnels are already brutal. I actually AVOID the businesses on Orrington, including many awesome restaurants, because I fear getting blown away.

      It is so unpleasant, especially in the winter, and really dissuades any pedestrian traffic. I’m not opposed to development, but I feel this bright-n-shiny building is just another case of Evanston builder-itis, hoping to “revitalize” with something new rather than actually well thought-out.

      1. Windy?

        Really? Brutal?  I walk the downtown streets every single day of the year and have done so for years upon years.  Sometimes it’s windy because it’s, well, windy out.  Sometimes it’s completely still because, well, there’s no wind out.  Sometimes there is moderate wind because, well, that’s what the weather is that day. 

        Only thing I see is a lot more people walking & biking all of the downtown streets and going to all the downtown businesses and doing so with absolutley no problem.  These people make it sound like you have to be tethered to earth, ridiculous.

    2. True story

      I was actually blown away once. Walking to Chase to withdraw money. I stoppped to smell the pita at Naf Naf, and guess what happens next. The wind picked me right up and blew me to the doorway of World of Beer. Luckily I was in the mood for a beer, so I had four and paid using my debit card. But lesson learned, never stop to smell the pita. Now I wear cargo pants with rocks to weigh me down just so I can walk around with a sense of safety. 

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