Plans to turn a long-vacant building at 1829 Simpson St. into a restaurant won a favorable recommendation Wednesday from Evanston’s Design and Project Review Committee.

The vote came despite continued opposition from some neighbors, but with strong support from Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward.

DAPR Committee Chair Johanna Leonard, the city’s Community Development Director, along with members Scott Mangum and Paul Zalmezak.

Rue Simmons said the owner of the planned restaurant, Arkady Kats, had been “very accommodating” in revising the plans to add windows that would look out onto the adjoining Twiggs Park and to provide an outdoor dining area.

Arkady Kats.

“The 5th Ward is ready for a unique and brilliant dining experience,” Rue Simmons said, and “he’s committed to do that, and to hire locally.”

While the building, constructed early in the last century, has always been used for commercial purposes when it wasn’t vacant, it once shared its lot with a small single family home that was demolished over a decade ago.

About 2003 the property’s zoning was changed from business to residential, and some neighbors, including former 5th Ward alderman Delores Holmes, have said they believed it should not be changed back to permit the restaurant use.

Delores Holmes.

The committee voted to require that the restaurant owner present a plan for handling garbage and resolve a disparity between different surveys of the property before the proposal reaches City Council for a final vote.

The block lacks an alley and the building extends to both side lot lines, so garbage will have to be stored in wheeled carts behind the building and wheeled through the restaurant to be picked up at the curb.

A 1928 survey shows the property as being 152 feet deep — seven feet less than more recent surveys.

Committee Chair Johanna Nyden said the discrepancy wouldn’t make a difference for the current proposal — which doesn’t call for building anything at the rear of the lot — but it would need to be addressed if Kats later wanted to, for example, place a fence at the back lot line.

The next step in the approval process for the restaurant is a joint meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Plan Commission at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 31.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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