Developer PIRHL LLC presented updated plans Wednesday evening for a 60-unit affordable housing development that would replace a city parking lot at 504 South Blvd. in Evanston.

The new design replaces one presented last February when PIRHL was chosen by the City Council as the developer for the site.

The design for the site presented in February.

Johana Casanova, a senior vice president with PIRHL, told residents at the online 3rd and 9th ward meeting that the project would have 66 parking spaces and include 28 two- and three-bedroom units and 30 one-bedroom apartments. (The size of the remaining two units wasn’t specified in her presentation.

Johana Casanova.

The development is intended to be an all-electric building with much of the power used generated from solar collectors on the building’s roof.

Casanova said all the units would be affordable — eligible for occupancy by households with 30% to 80% of area median income.

Four a family of four, the current AMI income limits at those levels, she said, range from $31,260 to $83,360 a year.

The project would also replace four existing townhomes owned by the Housing Authority of Cook County.

Jesse Silva.

HACC’s Jesse Silva said that assuming the project is approved, the housing authority would offer the residents of those units the option to get a housing choice voucher that would enable them to rent a privately-owned apartment or to move to a vacant HACC townhome elsewhere in Evanston.

Silva said HACC would hire a relocation expert to handle all the details of those moves.

Two owners of homes just east of the project site raised a range of objections to the project.

Doree Stein.

Doree Stein said she’d been led to believe her house at 505 Hinman Ave. would be taken to build the project and didn’t want to lose it.

Calvin Lyunn.

Calvin Lynn of 424 South Blvd. said he feared the new five story building would leave his home in shadows.

“I think I’m going to lose a lot of equity here,” Lynn said. “What are you going to do for my health and property values? I’m being pushed out, frankly,” he added.

Paul Zalmezak, the city’s community development manager, said the project would not involve acquiring either Stein’s or Lynn’s homes.

And an architect for the project, Eric Maring, said the east edge of the new building would be about 55 feet from Lynn’s lot line.

A site plan for the proposed development.

A neighbor two blocks away from the site, Joan Agnew of 734 Hinman, complained about speeding cars in the alley behind her condo and said residents of the AMLI development across the alley “let their dogs urinate right outside our door.”

The only other speaker offering comments on the proposal, Karl Klein, a member of the city’s Preservation Commission, questioned the 30-year affordability guarantee associated with the project — saying it should be longer.

Interim Community Development Director Sarah Flax said PIRHL and HACC were committed to having housing be permanently affordable — but that the 30-year rule provided a mechanism to seek new financing to fund needed repairs after a development has been in use for three decades.

PIRHL is expected to start the zoning approval process for the development with the city next month.

It is seeking approval of low income housing tax credits from the Illinois Housing Development Authority and hopes to have that request approved by May 2023 and to get city zoning approvals around the same time.

Assuming all goes well, construction could start in Spring 2024, with occupancy of the new apartments in Summer 2025.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Why is there a new drawing which appears to be much less attractive than the drawing accompanying the original proposal? This rendering looks more like public housing and will have less appeal to the south of South Boulevard neighborhood. Is this a bait and switch plan?

    1. Yes of course they did a bait and switch, and they went full steam ahead and be damned those who live near it. Melissa Wynne did nothing to help the ward keep the integrity of the neighborhood.

  2. The new drawing is ugly and looks like a housing project. In other reporting it is implied that this housing is going to be for residents of Evanston….how are they going to ensure that? Otherwise why are we obsessed with building artificially cheap housing to lure people here who only make 30k a year to live in this overpriced city? The guilty liberal conscious collective loves building low income housing …….as long as it’s nowhere near them. why don’t you try building one of these in north Evanston? 8th Ward is over saturated with low income housing as it is. There are consequences for stuffing all the low income housing in only 2-3 wards.

  3. I agree with David’s comment. I’m a nearby resident and am also very disappointed the new renderings are a huge step back from the original.

    The original renderings at least looked like they would be a net positive for the neighborhood– modern, wood trim sidings, and interesting architectural details.

    The new renderings, by contrast, would be a net negative for the neighborhood. It’s clinical, sterile, and very much a concrete block that will be an eyesore for decades.

  4. I am disappointed and disturbed by the pace of this project with minimal community input and involvement. Based on the information provided, I do not support this initiative as there is already a significant amount of low-income housing in Evanston Ward 3 and nearby Ward 8.

    Like most folks in the area, we had to work long and hard to afford and maintain a house or other property in Evanston. If the affordable housing component was drastically reduced, or even removed altogether, I would be more inclined to support it. As is, I agree it’s a lot for our small neighborhood to take on given the large number of low-income housing units that has already saturated the area.

    Perhaps a low income housing development in Evanston Parking Lot 67 (Alley between Emerson and Foster St., east of the Purple Line) near Northwestern University may be a better option, but I doubt that will be in the works anytime soon.

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