Neighbors delay senior housing vote

A rendering of the project as viewed from the west side of Ridge Avenue.

Neighbors of a proposed senior housing development on Ridge Avenue demanded Wednesday that Evanston's Plan Commission delay action on the 11-story project.

As permitted by commission rules, the neighbors asked that the vote be delayed so they could gather additional information to buttress their arguments against the proposal, which was first publicly discussed last October.

The commission scheduled the next meeting on the planned development for 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 6.

More than a dozen neighbors at the relatively lightly attended public hearing raised questions about or voiced opposition to the project.

Robert Canizaro, a retired architect who lives across the street in the 1800 Ridge condo development, said the new project "overwhelms its neighbors across Ridge and the church just to its south."

"I don't feel the building contributes to the neighborhood," Canizaro said, "It takes and it doesn't give back. It will be a bad neighbor."

Developer Michael McLean described a variety of improvements to the area around the building that the developers have agreed to provide as part of the planned development negotiating process with the city.

They include a landscaped seating area along Ridge Avenue, widening of Oak Avenue south of the development and addition of a sidewalk on the west side of Oak.

City staff has recommended approval of the 165-unit project, which contains 140 independent living and assisted living dwelling units, 25 memory care rooms and 70 parking spaces.

Historical records consulted as part of an environmental study of the site indicate that by the 1890s it had been developed with residential buildings and an ice house. By the 1920s it was the site of an auto dealership and auto repair facility and by the 1960s portions of it were used as a movie studio while the rest was a commercial laundry. The laundry use expanded into the entire building in the 1980s and continued on the property until earlier this decade.

McLean said the environmental study indicated no evidence of significant contamination on the site.

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