Aldermen to debate tower time extension

The proposed tower, flanked by existing high-rises, including Rotary International and Sherman Plaza on the left, and the 1603 Orrington tower to the right.

Evanston aldermen are scheduled to vote tonight on giving developers of the proposed 35-story condo tower on the Fountain Square block an extra three years to start construction.

The planned development at 708 Church St. was initially approved in March 2009 on a 6-3 vote -- the minimum required for the project, which needed a super-majority, two-thirds vote by aldermen.

Since then the composition of the council has changed dramatically.

Two opponents of the project then -- Elizabeth Tisdahl and Steve Bernstein -- are no longer aldermen. Tisdahl, now mayor, won't have a vote tonight unless there's a tie.

Three supporters -- Lionel Jean-Baptiste, Edmund Moran, and Anjana Hansen -- have also stepped down. And one, 1st Ward alderman Cheryl Wollin, was defeated by tower opponent Judy Fiske.

Fiske is expected to be joined tonight in voting no by Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, who voted against the tower in 2009.

How many other new council members will join the yes votes from 2009 -- Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, and Ann Rainey, 8th Ward -- will determine the outcome.

Proposals for one or more tower buildings on the block had been floated as early as 2006, but by the time the winning plan won approval, the housing market was already in sharp decline and the developers were granted nearly five years -- until the end of this year -- instead of the customary three, to begin construction.

At the time the vote was taken, supporters of the plan expressed hope for an economic recovery, while opponents, like Tisdahl, feared that the city would be over-saturated with condo units.

But Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th ward, said at the time that the council would look foolish if they didn't approve the proposal and the economy improved.

Initially proposed as a 49-story tower by developers Tim Anderson and James Klutznick in 2007, the project shrank as it went through the city's review process.

An amendment proposed by former Alderman Anjana Hansen, 9th Ward, and attached to the final approval of the development plans, requires the developers to attain silver LEED status for the building.

Completion of the planned development may still be a long way off if the proposed extension is granted by City Council tonight. If approved, the developers would have until Dec. 31, 2016 to obtain a building permit for the project -- which would put the likely completion date sometime in 2018. 

The discussion will begin tonight at the Planning and Development Committee meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 7:15 p.m.

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Comments

What's to debate?

The council is ready to raise taxes by double the rate of inflation and they are going to tack on multiple increases in myriad fees across the board with no debate over that proposal.  

This proposal moves Evanston towards embracing the future and will also throw off how many millions in real estate tax revenue over the years while providing sales-tax-generating residents that will support local taxpaying business and local job creation.  

Yet this proposed extension, not the double the rate of inflation tax increases, is what they think needs debate?  Seriously?  

Demand for condos?

Who knew there was so much demand for condo living in Evanston? If this happens, they shouldn't stop at 35 or 49 stories. The aim ought to be for a structure that would rival the Willis Tower, at the very least. Make no little plans.  If I'm going to have a monstrosity in my backyard, make it one for the books.

in your backyard?

This "monstrosity" will not be in anyone's backyard...it is in the central downtown area.

Otherwise, you are correct....the tower should be taller.  If you recall the original plans for the tower, it was taller and more elegant.....but the developers had to modify it to satisfy the NIMBYs, so they made it shorter and chunkier....nevertheless, the NIMBYs were still not happy.

This NIMBY lives downtown

I live downtown and I don't want it here. Since we live in America and that is my vote, then I am going to the meeting to voice it there as I have here. If any of you had something built near your home that you did not want built, maybe, just maybe you would understand. But, it is very clear that you don't get it and would prefer to silence anyone who thinks differently from you.

Typical nimby

You live in a building that your predecessor NIMBY's also claimed would ruin Evanston with their blah blah nonsense.  Nimbys were wrong then and they are wrong again, they always are. 

While you have a right to opinion hopefully clearer minds will once again prevail now as they did back when the very building you live in was approved, hopefully.

Now your here and you simply don't want anything to block your personal views because you somehow think you have air rights over all of Evanston.  Let the "not convinced" exaggerations and hysteria begin, as it always does.  Typical selfish NIMBY behavior.

Downtown high rise

That's so Evanston...someone living downtown that doesn't want anyone else to live there! So let's look at the list. We don't want high-rise condos in Evanston. We don't want high-rise office buildings, either. We don't want manufacturing in Evanston. Up on Crawford, they don't want banks in Evanston. It's great to live in a museum society but being wedded to the past gets expensive. If you don't believe it, look at your property tax bill! I'm for the downtown high rise because more people living in downtown Evanston can only make the area more lively and can only make my taxes go down!

Broaden the tax base

I say broaden our tax base in Evanston by voting yes for this development.  The developer has done their due diligence they know there is a demand for condo owners in Evanston.  To the people who argue that the neighboring business don’t want this development…where are you getting you information?  What retailer or restaurant would not want the addition of a few hundred upper middle class consumers within walking distance to their business.