A plan for a six-story residential building at 1031 Sherman Ave., across from Nichols Middle School, got a chilly reception from Evanston officials this afternoon.

The proposal from property owner Mike Dalton calls for building 45 housing units and 74 parking spaces on the lot that runs from Sherman through to Custer Avenue a few doors south of Greenleaf Street.

The owner’s attorney, Dan Shapiro, told the Site Plan and Appearance Review Committee that he hopes to win approval for the project as a planned development, including rezoning of the land from MUE to C1a.

The MUE, or transitional manufacturing employment district, has a three-story or 40-foot height limit. The height limit in the C1a commercial district is 67 feet.

The property is just across the Metra and CTA tracks from Chicago Avenue, which has seen substantial development of mid-rise buildings in recent years, but west of the tracks the immediate neighborhood consists mostly of single family homes and small apartment buildings.

“This is way out of scale for this site,” Community Development Director James Wolinski said, “if you can bring it down a couple of stories and reduce the number of units, you’d have a much better chance of getting support.”

“C1a zoning is all on main thoroughfares,” he added, “This is more of a residential street. I think the change would be hard to win.”

The roughly 20,000 square foot lot has been mostly vacant for several years.

City Planning Director Dennis Marino said, “This is a property we’d like to see developed, but the question is what’s the right form for everybody.”

Mr. Wolinski said several plans for the site have been floated over the years, including proposals for townhouses, but none of them ultimately moved forward.

County Recorder of Deeds records indicate Mr. Dalton acquired the property about a year ago for $1.2 million.

Because the meeting was for a preliminary concept review the committee took no vote on the proposal.

If the developer moves forward with the plan, the next step would be another SPARC meeting that the chair of the Plan Commission and the ward’s alderman would be invited to attend.

Mr. Shapiro said, “We’re not trying to insult the city or just throw something in front of you. We’re trying to consider the surrounding area and bring development to an area that is in need of development.”

“I understand the concerns about height,” he said, “and we’d like to continue to move forward with the process.”

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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