Aldermen this week rejected plans to establish a Nic’s Organic Fast Food restaurant on a long-vacant parcel of land in northwest Evanston.

Alderman Tom Suffredin, 6th Ward, urged his colleagues on the Planning and Development Committee to reject the plan to redevelop the site at Crawford Avenue and Gross Point Road, and they voted unanimously to not advance the project to the full City Council, effectively killing it.

Becky Houston.

Several neighborhood residents spoke against the development, including Becky Houston, who lives on Park Place, and who brought her children to the podium to listen as she spoke of her fears for their safety if the restaurant brought added traffic to the corner.

Neighborhood opposition previously killed off plans to redevelop the former gas station site into a Chase Bank branch.

It remained unclear after the vote what sort of economically-viable business could be found that would fit the commercial zoning for the property — which is located in one of the more auto-centric corners of Evanston — and still have few enough customers and employees to satisfy the neighbors.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. NIMBY’s
    These NIMBY’s responsible for keeping a commercial lot vacant remind me of the group of people who live near ohare and oppose any expansion because they don’t like the noise.

    1. The neighbors that live at or

      The neighbors that live at or near the intersection purchased their property at a discount precisely because of the risk of a commercial property moving in next door.

      Nepotistic Alderman Suffredin is the son of Cook Cook Commissioner and avid pop tax supporter Larry Suffredin. He does not grasp basic economics and seems hell bent on letting the corner sit vacant for next 3 decades to appease a handful of neighbors who would rather live next to a vacant lot.  

    2. When a developer or owner

      When a developer or owner puts forth a proposed use for the site that falls within the zoning code, the “NIMBYS” may object but their opposition will carry no weight. When any kind of variance is sought,. neighboring input (including objections) can and should sway ZBA and Council rulings.

    3. Do you live near the area

      Do you live near the area where the drive-through restaurant was proposed? Are you familiar with the existing traffic congestion there? Do you realize that the vast majority of incremental traffic created by a drive-through would be during evening rush hour (as stated by the proposed owner), when the corners of the 3-way intersection are already jammed? No one I know is opposed to a commercial use of the site, but a business dependent on a high volume of traffic during rush hour makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

      1. I live very close to that intersection

        I dislike jammed traffic as much as anyone, but it is what we have to accept if we are to have a commercie sector — especially retail.  within a block we have Little Island, Subway, Starbucks and Sarki’s.  The neighborhood accepts those and had accepted the gas station when it was there.  I really think there are a vocal set of neighbors that will only be satisfied if there is no commercial retail development on that lot.

        1. Not to mention the largest

          Not to mention the largest retail establishment and biggest contributor to traffic congestion: CVS! That building has functioned as a drugstore for so long, I guess it’s invisible to the NIMBYs. 

    4. This is perfect…

      When will the people of Evanston realize that businesses like these bring revenue to the community?  Why keep these lots vacant and run down?  You are effectively killing your property value so it’s perfect for the unicorns that live up there.  News flash…the City is in a giant hole of debt and you just keep fighting against revenue….I hope your property taxes get raised to offset the debt since you keep shooting things down.  I’m laughing so hard at the dumbness here!

      1. Skokie is Across the Street

        To the owners of the business: don’t get discouraged. Skokie is literally across the street and would welcome the business with open arms. The Evanston market would still be a stone’s throw away. Best of all, Evanstonians driving the few extra blocks to Skokie would only add to the traffic congestion the NIMBYs purport to detest.  

      2. What is the problem?

        Healthy traffic for the taxpayer or would they rather have a liquor store there that has no preference of traffic or happy hour. How about Nic’s moving to the former health food store on Chicago Ave. Will be interesting to hear of the opposition there.

  2. 6th Ward not open for business, just Suffredin from taxes


    This corner is on a busy intersection –  Crawford and Ridge – and is surrounded by other businesses. And the 6th Ward Alderman Tom Suffredin, son of Cook County Board Commissioner, lobbyist and Democratic party machine insider, Larry Suffredin, goes out of his way, urging the Planning and Development Committee to nix a proposed cool organic cafe.

    I thought Evanston was a “progressive” community. Nics Organic Cafe’s food has no antibiotics, no added hormones, no GMOs, no artificial colors or dyes, no artificial preservatives, no synthetic herbicides, no synthetic pesticides and no Ionizing radiation. But you can’t have this, thanks to Suffredin.

    I bet nearby restaurant owners are happy about this P&D vote. No competition, including the restaurant right next door. Hmm, I sure hope machine politics is not in play in Evanston.

    There’s a vacant lot on the northwest corner of Old Orchard and Gross Point that not long ago was a structure. Across the street from that lot sits the now vacant former Berglund Animal Hospital. There are several long time vacant store fronts along Central Street, incuding a shuttered 7Eleven.

    Looks like 6th Ward Alderman Tom Suffredin needs to get to work and fill all of these vacancies in his ward rather than kill a deal that would bring more businesses and TAX REVENUE to Evanston!!!!

    Word to Suffredin —  taxes in Evanston are rising faster than the cost of living. You’re not helping. In fact, your decisions are making it harder on property owners and sending a stern message to business owners that Evanston’s 6th Ward is not open for business. If an organic cafe can’t open in Evanston’s 6th Ward what in the world can? 

    Speaking of business, nepotism in Chicago and Cook County politics is a rite of passage and for many a family business.  

    We live in the 6th Ward and will definitely not vote for Suffredin. Next election I hope we get a 6h Ward candidate that is pro business and anti-taxes. I’m missing Mark Tendam already.

  3. Does anybody have any idea
    Does anybody have any idea what could be built as of right in this space? It seems nearly everything that has been proposed here needs some sort of variance. It’s a shame it stands empty. In addition, I’m not sure I understand the whole “traffic” argument. It was the same for the Starbucks, and as far as I can tell that has worked out fine.

    1. What can be built by right

      Simply consult the zoning ordinance. It lists what sorts of business are allowed by right for that lot. But no drive-thru would be allowed by right. Nor is a fast food restaurant allowed by right.

      1. Perfect for an affordable housing building

        6th Ward Alderman Tom Suffredin has said he supports more affordable housing units in Evanston. He needs to work his progressive magic and get us a 16-unit affordable housing building on that lot. It’s perfect!!!!! I’m sure the neighbors would welcome the idea with open arms. Let’s get to it, Tom!!

  4. Risky Business

    I could see why the neighbors would be concerned. What are the odds of the restaurant actually being successful in the long term? If it failed what would follow? Should have been happy with Chase. 

    1. Speakers

      My recollection is that nobody spoke in favor of the project at Monday’s meeting.

      — Bill

    2. Typically objectors only

      In most cases, public comment for development proposals is comprised of objectors. I’m sure there are supporters, or more likely, people who are indifferent (my guess this is most people), but they don’t take the time to go these meetings.  Personally, I’m indifferent on this.  I’d like to see this corner developed.  I don’t have an issue with the use.  I disagree that the intersection is jammed with traffic (and yes, I live very close).  I also don’t think this would generate much new traffic as the restaurant would draw a lot of pass-by customers that are already traveling by the site on Central, Crawford, and Gross Point, but their site plan was not very workable and they would benefit from a little larger site.  It’s a small site and will be tough to fit any viable business without some form of variation from the underlying zoning requirements.  It’s just not very developable, similar to the corner site at Gross Point/Old Orchard.  It probably needs to be a more pedestrian-focused business that can work out a shared parking and access arrangement with Sarkis.

  5. Resident of the 6th ward here

    Resident of the 6th ward here. I’m really disappointed by this outcome. I now expect that this lot will remain frustratingly vacant for as long as I live in Evanston. 

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