Neighbors will get a chance next month to say whether they think developers of Central Place Residences, proposed for the site of the shuttered Evanston Theaters, have succeeded in revising the condo project’s design to meet their objections.

The new design, looking south on Central Street
At a Plan Commission hearing Wednesday night the developers presented a new design that:

  • Cuts the building from five stories to four and its height from 57 to 48 feet.
  • Cuts the required parking spaces from 106 to 100 and provides all the parking on site.
  • Increases the depth of first-floor storefronts from about 28 feet to about 40 feet.
  • Redesigns the loading dock and parking area to reduce traffic in the alley behind the building.
  • Redesigns the streetscape to increase the unobstructed sidewalk width.

To make room for the changes, the new design also lengthens the building to the full 300 feet of the site’s frontage in the 1700-block of Central Street, eliminating plans to retain and rehabilitate a historic cottage at the west edge of the property.
Co-developer Bob Horn said the new design also provides greater setbacks from the street starting at the second floor level to respond to neighbors’ concerns about “canyonization” of the street.
Because of a full agenda, the commissioners decided to postpone public comment on the proposal to the next Plan Commission meeting Nov. 8.
Several commissioners said they were impressed with how thoroughly the developers had responded to neighborhood criticism of the previous design, but they said the five story design was much more attractive.
“This project does not have a fraction of the elegance of the previous proposal,” Commissioner Stuart Opdycke said.
“The one tonight is a step removed from a dormitory. The one we looked at a month ago is a real elegant piece of architecture,” he added.

A view of the five-story design looking southeast, showing the Victorian cottage that would be removed in the new design.
Co-developer Jack Crocker said there was no cheapening of the building in the new design. “It’s the same materials and detailing,” he said, “It’s just a different building because it’s built in a different mass. A longer four-story building is diffeernt than a narrower five story building.”
Plan Commissioner Coleen Burrus said, “We prefer the other design.”
“Me too,” Mr. Crocker responded.
He added that the architectural team would continue to work on the design to refine it in hopes of having further revisions before the next Plan Commission meeting.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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