Developer Tom Roszak talked to neighbors Tuesday about his plans to finish off the Sienna project site in downtown Evanston with a hotel instead of more condos.

Several dozen people showed up for the generally subdued session in the City Council Chamber at the Civic Center.

Roszak said the slowing condo market means financing is not available to construct the last two of the four eight-story condo buildings originally planned for the Sienna site, because of a lack of pre-sales.

The two structures fronting on Oak Avenue have been built, but so far the western half of the site, facing Ridge Avenue, is just a hole in the ground.

Last fall Roszak told city officials he wanted to substitute a hotel and a rental apartment building for the final two condo buildings.

But the rental building is now out of the picture and the size of the hotel has expanded from 111 to 205 rooms.

Community Development Director James Wolinski said he believed the change was due to difficulty coming up with financing for the apartment project.

In the latest version of the plan, the hotel building would be seven stories tall, compared to nine stories when it was to share the site with the rental apartments.

Roszak said the hotel plan would generate more tax revenue for local governments than completing the condo development.

He said if the entire condo project had been built it would have generated about $1.5 million in revenue to the city, schools and other local taxing bodies. With the hotel, he said, that number should rise to $2.25 million.

Some residents of a condo conversion project across the street at 1800 Ridge Ave. voiced concerns about the commercial nature of the hotel development.

Other neighbors said they were worried about security, including a woman who lives in the Sienna development who said she feared drunken patrons from the hotel bar would be traipsing through the access drive in front of her unit.

Roszak said the hotel, a franchise of the new Aloft brand of the Starwood Hotels organization, would have about 50 employees on site and would provide all the parking required under city codes.

The project is expected to be reviewed by the city’s Plan Commission later this spring.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Roszak proposal: Disgusting
    The proposed hotel is ugly, and it’s a monster.

    I feel sorry for the people who bought at Sienna. If Tom Roszak has his way, the Sienna residents’ private courtyard area will become a busy drop-off point for cars, taxis, limos, airport shuttle vans, etc. Instead of the quiet “garden area” that was promised to the owners, the space will be filled with noise, smelly exhaust, and drunken students. The hotel will have a bar, and there are many student rentals within walking distance of the proposed bar. Additionally, I could easily see the area becoming a hangout for the rather boisterous teens that typically hang out in front of the movie theater.

    Truly a disgusting proposal in every way.

    I’m surprised Roszak hasn’t been sued for breach of contract. Owners bought into the condo complex as a whole — pool, fountains, private garden areas, etc. — and I would think such a drastic change to the site plan would need approval by a majority of the current unit owners.

    And if the city approves the proposal, they may also be liable in some way, since Roszak can’t proceed with his hotel without city approval. Hopefully the city has a sharp legal team that can advise the Plan Commission before they vote on this.

    It’s one thing to change the scope of a project before anyone signs a contract. It’s a completely different animal when you start making major changes halfway through the project, after contracts are signed and after people have moved in.

  2. I attended the meeting and
    I attended the meeting and using the courtyard is his “proposed” idea. I think the chances of that actually happening are slim and the city will have to give in and let him use the Ridge entrance. At that point, the entire hotel becomes much more viable in my opinion. If I lived there, I would rather have a W-type hotel than 2 empty condo buildings bringing down the value of my condo.

  3. Does anybody know what has
    Does anybody know what has been approved by the city and condo association? When I drive by the area all I see is the hole in the ground. Is this condo still going to be family oriented?

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