City Council Monday is scheduled to give final approval to a parking variation needed for redevelopment of Evanston’s Varsity Theater theater building.
And, despite concerns voiced by some neighbors, the owner of a business that will be impacted by the new development says he supports it.
Ross Martens of The Alley Gallery, located in Bookman’s Alley just across from the theater, told residents at a 1st Ward meeting Thursday, “We’re really excited about” the plans to add 35-apartments on the upper floors of the old theater building and to open up the blank north wall of the theater building with new storefronts.
In all the years since its founding in 1985 that the gallery, a framing shop, has been in the alley, Martens said, “it hasn’t changed much” and he hopes having more activity on the Varsity side of the alley “will bring people down there.”
“More of a pedestrian focus,” he said, “would be amazing, it has real potential.”
The Varsity’s owner has already reached agreement with the city for an easement that would permit closing to vehicular traffic the portion of the east-west alley east of where it meets a north-south alley in the block.
Some neighbors at the meeting continued to voice concerns about possible disruption to traffic patterns because of the planned closure.
With the easement and the parking variation — which calls for providing two parking spaces on site and leasing 16 more off-site — the project will only need approval of building permits to have all the city approvals needed to begin construction at the 1710 Sherman Ave. site.