Lower height lowers hurdle to approval for Albion

The new 15-story design for the Sherman Avenue development

When the Albion Residential planned development on Sherman Avenue goes back before Evanston aldermen Monday it will be 15-stories tall, rather than the 16-story project that was held at the Planning and Development Committee two weeks ago.

That, and a few other changes, mean the developers no longer are asking for more than the maximum site development allowances that a simple majority of aldermen can approve under the city's zoning code.

Projects that ask for more than that require a two-thirds approval vote.

Here's a rundown of some of the key changes:

  • The building height is reduced from 177.5 feet to 166.3 feet.
  • The number of dwelling units is reduced from 286 to 273.
  • The floor area ratio is reduced from 6.78 to 5.99.
  • The number of parking spaces is increased from 186 to 200.
  • The ziggurat setback is increased from zero to 5 feet at the south end of the building.
  • The ground-floor commercial space is reduced from 9,321 to 6,800 square feet, and from three to two storefronts.

The development at 1450-1508 Sherman Ave. would replace a mix of mostly single-story commercial buildings, surface parking and a vacant lot on the block.

The develoer has offered to provide a $2.7 million contribution to the city's affordable housing fund plus two on-site studio units rented at 60 percent of aera median income, or in the alternative to provide 15 on-site units and no fee-in-lieu.

The developer has also committed to provide a variety of public benefits, including funds for maintaining Harper Park across the street from the site and a publicly accessible pocket park at the south end of the site, a contribution toward public art, repainting the Lake Street Metra viaduct, two publicly accessible car-share spaces on the site.

The Plan Commission voted 4-2 last month to recommend approval of the development.

Related stories

Topic: 

Comments

Albion Building

In 2009 the city of Evanston paid one quarter of a million dollars to a consulting company for a city plan. It called for the tallest buildings to be confined to the city core with traditional blocks with 4-5 story buildings transitioning to the residential blocks with many Victorian houses. The plan has been violated with the tall buildings along Emerson, but Sherman Ave between Grove and Lake is a transition block and one of the few walkable ones left. The Albion building is shoehorned into a triangular lot with the el abutting it to the west. The developers meant it as a "transit" community, but in a Freudian slip, said it would be a "transient community." We don't want that and we don't need that. But the proposed apartments are too small for families, and too expensive for most Evanstonians. The ugly steel and glass building is out of character in Evanston and takes up almost the entire block! The block needs to be developed thoughtfully with the help of the Chamber of Commerce.

4-5 stories are allowed on that block. Albion wants fifteen. Ninety units would be allowed on those eight lots. They want 273. There should be at least that number of parking places but they propose 73 too few spaces, not considering that many couples have two cars. We need an unbiased traffic study and a density study (not a bird flight pattern study that the developer claimed was done and won't be a problem). Taking over the too-narrow alley in back of Nevins for the entrance to the building and making it a one-way alley with all traffic entering on Lake Street would affect every residence on Lake St. Along with the residential blocks off of Lake St. The parking on Elmwood Ave. is already a nightmare. This would make it even worse. Finally, as a designer who has worked for ABC, Apple Computer and the new Evanston Library's opening, I can unequivocally say that the proposed building is hideous. We need a moratorium on high rises here in Evanston. If we really wanted then all around us, we would live in the loop! 

Downtown Plan

Hi Sari,

The City Council, elected by the voters, chose not to enact the zoning changes called for in the 2009 downtown plan.

Therefore, with current zoning, under a planned development, 15 stories is allowed in that block.

And all the variances the developer now is asking for are within the power of a simple majority of the City Council to grant.

-- Bill

Oh Please.

Lots of nonsense. First off, it's tiring to hear this constant and false claim made by the nimby's that zoning is being violated, simply not true, just as Bill correctly stated.

Secondly, the idea that Sherman between Grove and Lake would no longer be walkable is pure hyperbole. The street will remain walkable, will become even more walkable than now. Same as the sidewalk in front of the Sherman plaza development, that street is one of the nicest, most walked streets in downtown. I remember well people going on and on about how that development will turn that block into a non-walkable street.

Third, the apartments are too small for families?  Families are not the only demographic that wants to live in Evanston. Downtown Evanston isn't filled with families, there are a lot of empty nesters, and Evanston has a great need to retain younger professional households, to stop losing that demographic to Chicago. Making a commitment, signing a lease, paying high r.e. taxes to the community, that is not the definition of transient. That name calling is nothing more than insulting nimby talk. 

The steel and glass building is absolutely in character with downtown Evanston, that is what defines downtown Evanston today, that is what made downtown Evanston into the bustling place it now is, that is why downtown Evanston now wins livability awards, that is exactly what is attractive about downtown Evanston. Like it or not, that is a simple matter of fact. 

Fourth, while you may live an auto based existence not all of us do. As E2 has shown these buildings don't need all that parking. The fact that you cannot understand that lifestyle doesn't mean the lifestyle is invalid or doesn't exist. Again, all your claims of traffic nightmares have been made ad nauseum by every nimby over every project during the last couple decades. My building downtown, it's very rare to ever have more than one car coming or going at any time. The handwringing over parking armageddon is way overblown.

Finally, where you worked is irrelevant to anything and qualifies your "hideous" descriptor as nothing more than opinion. I, and a whole lot of other people don't find these buildings hideous. Indeed, a great, great many people have been paying hard earned money to move into these buildings and I will bet you any dollar amount you want that this building will also prove to be very desirable. What's undesirable is the trend in Evanston of Nimby's fighting every project, forcing developers to make squatter, shorter, boxier buildings to satisfy that nimby outrage, which every time has caused buildings diminished from their original intent. Same is happening with this project, nice job nimby's.