Fear of height may doom affordability efforts

Rob Anthony.

What aldermen see as a surge of opposition among some residents to tall buildings downtown may doom efforts to significantly increase affordable housing in Evanston.

That was the view advanced by two aldermen on the Inclusionary Housing Ordinance Subcommittee Wednesday night.

Committee member Rob Anthony, of the Affordable Housing Corporation of Lake County, suggested that the city should consider "real cost offsets" in the form of greater height and density bonuses to stimulate production of more affordable units.

But Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said that with the bonuses the city already offers, "We've seen in the past year that people are reacting very unfavorably to density and height bonuses."

"We have several more large projects that have applied for approval, but I don't think all will go through," Wilson added.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, argued that it's only a very small portion of the community that's objecting, "but they've had a major effect on the Council."

After approving a 15-story development on Sherman Avenue last November that will provide 15-on-site affordable units, aldermen last month rejected a 33-story project on Davis Street.

City staff is currently reviewing proposals for:

  • A 17-story, 169-unit active adult community at 1727 Oak Ave. whose developers are proposing six on-site affordable units plus a $1.1 million contribution to the affordable housing fund, and
  • A five-story, 26-unit rental development  at 128 Chicago Ave. with a City Grange garden center on the ground level. It would have five on-site affordable units.
  • A two-story, 14-unit rental development at 3233-3249 Central St., whose developers are proposing a $75,000 contribution to the affordable housing fund.

In addition, developers have announced plans for two additional projects that have not yet been submitted for formal city review:

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