Zoning unit weighs possible changes to C1a

Looking east across Chicago Avenue from Lee to Main Streets. (Google Maps image)

The Zoning Committee of the Evanston Plan Commission took another look Wednesday night at the C1a zoning designation, which provides for buildings with retail space at the bottom and living units above that are located on Chicago Avenue from Lee Street south to South Boulevard.

After discussion, the committee asked city staff to prepare a change for further review that would provide an incentive for potential developers to widen the setback in exchange for greater building height.

The review was undertaken at the request of Third Ward Ald. Melissa Wynne, who contends that the present C1a designation produces dense, blocky buildings with little setback.

Committee members said they were satisfied with the current requirements, but that they were open to the possibility of offering height incentives to developers in exchange for wider setbacks.

Ald. Wynne, who was out of town and unable to attend the meeting, told Evanston Now by email Thursday that she had not yet talked to city staff about the committee’s request, but that she wanted “a different designation for properties that have commercial on the ground floor and residential above that would be less dense and lower FAR.”

FAR is an acronym for Floor Area Ratio, which is the relationship between the total amount of usable floor area and the total area of the lot on which the building stands. This ratio is determined by dividing the total, or gross, floor area of the building by the gross area of the lot.

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Downzoning eyed for Chicago Avenue