Four neighborhood activists renewed objections to the city’s west side plan as the Plan Commission’s Zoning Committee resumed work this week on rules to implement the plan adopted by the City Council nearly a year ago.

Tina Paden, of Paden Properties, who rents to low-income tenants with federal housing choice vouchers, said new development in the area would drive up taxes and make it hard for her to continue to rent to poor people.

Paden, who with relatives owns a building at 1507 Emerson St. just east of the plan boundary, said property taxes on another property she owns went from $10,000 to $16,000 after the building next door was converted to condos.

She said town homes proposed for the area that likely would sell for $425,000 and up are too expensive for area residents.

The zoning process had been halted for several months as the aldermen of the affected wards, Lionel Jean-Baptiste and Delores Holmes, attempted to resolve concerns about the plan.

The plan involves properties along the former Mayfair rail corridor from Simpson Street south to Greenwood Street. With a few exceptions it directly affects only land that is currently vacant or has commercial or industrial uses.

It calls for mostly residential development, plus some retail uses. The bulk of the new residences would be town homes, but some apartments are included along with the possibility of some single-family homes on small lots.

Carlis Sutton, a homeowner living at 1821 Darrow Ave., said the redevelopment proposed for the area is not consistent with the existing nearby homes. He said many of those homes, like his, are very small, as little as 900 square feet.

He said the city should provide funds so homeowners could fix up their properties with tuck pointing and new roofs.

Sutton said Evanston’s 5th Ward has the highest number of foreclosures on the North Shore and that the redevelopment will send that number through the roof.

Roberta Hudson, a homeowner at 1941 Dewey Ave., across from the Fleetwood-Jourdain Recreation Center and the Faith Temple Church, said there’s already too much traffic in her area and redeveloping the now-vacant industrial property behind her home would only make traffic worse.

She argued that, instead of spending money on new housing, the city should provide job training for local residents.

“This shouldn’t be for the benefit of developers, just because they have a block of land and can’t do anything with it,” she said.

Housing activist Betty Sue Ester of 2114 Darrow Ave. said the plan doesn’t do enough to encourage existing businesses to stay in the community.

On that front it appeared city officials may have made some progress. An attorney representing the city in negotiations with several business owners said he hoped to have a draft proposal to address their concerns ready for the committee’s next meeting, April 30.

An attorney for the business owners, James Murray, agreed that progress has been made in the discussions, but said some impediments remain and there’s still a “twisty road” to reach a solution.

The city initially proposed changing the zoning for several properties now zoned industrial to residential uses — which would have barred owners of businesses on the sites from expanding.

Properties affected by the issue include Cahill Plumbing and National Awards on Church Street and the Buffalo Joe’s restaurant on Green Bay Road.

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Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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7 Comments

  1. Developemt will help foreclosure bleeding?
    The number of foreclosure is high in the 5th ward definitely. Many of these foreclosure are significantly driven by the fact that property value is declining and home owner can not get refinance from mortgage compnay.

    Having this developement should help stop bleeding of property value decline. I would think that this will help the current resident in many ways. Am I to naive to think so? I am not a real estate experts… But I also live in West Evanston and further decline of property value may put me into foreclosure as well. It may not be possible to refinance my home in future with this trend. I am very worried about that aspect currently. Thankfully Evanston has not has faced huge declines like in California yet…. But how much can current value sustain if there is no development stimulus from City of Evanston west side dev plan?

    Just because there is a new development in the area, it does not mean that City of Evanston can not put a measure to control tax increase of west side area. The concern of property tax increase is valid. But this is where City of Evanston can help to provide a balanced control of increase property value vs tax increase.

    As the City of Evanston facilitates the growth of west side development preventing more foreclosures due to property value decline and it can address concern of current residents for significant tax increase in this area to prevent resident to be driven out due to tax increase.

    Can City of Evanston provide a with win and win situation for west side residence and the rest of Evanston residence? I really hope so….

  2. development on west side
    I favor development on the west side, and hope that Mr. Baba’s neighborhood is improved and house values go up – and I hope this can be done without driving away those business mentioned in the article.

    It amazes me that here in Evanston, NIMBY capital of the midwest, we now have NIMBY’s complaining that condo development is bad because it will increase the value of their property. I guess we should just let a neighborhood rot, so that assessments will be low.

    Development downtown is bad because it will depress property values and drive away traffic. Development on Central St. is bad because it will depress property values and create traffic. Development on the west side is bad because it might increase property values.

  3. What the residents of the westside may not understand.
    In driving through the 5th ward – what I see is a area of modest smaller homes. I do not see a desire on the part of residents of the area to preserve the character of the neighborhoods.

    They appear to be interested in other political agendas which in the end will allow what is left of the small scale residential to be destroyed. Such as affordable housing, jobs and other agendas not related to zoning.

    The area in my view should be rezoned R1 or zoning that will prevent large multi-family type buildings in areas of small homes- thus preserving the small homes -driving around you begin to see that many properties have been convert to multi-family. In small block of smaller homes you see a muti- family building no doubt built by affordable housing groups – the neighbors being not able to stop them- or not understanding what they would do to the fabric and pattern of the neighborhood.

    What is likely to happen as many of the properties forclose they will be brought up and taken down and the land will be grouped for large development thus continuing to destroy the small scale neighborhood character of the area.

    What neighbors should really do is consider a historic district for the area and try to preserve the pattern of the neighborhoods – they also need to market the area better to other families to encourage people to move into the area.

    1. preserve the pattern of the neighborhoods
      In driving through the 5th ward – what I see is a area of modest smaller homes. I do not see a desire on the part of residents of the area to preserve the character of the neighborhoods.

      They appear to be interested in other political agendas which in the end will allow what is left of the small scale residential to be destroyed. Such as affordable housing, jobs and other agendas not related to zoning.

      They care about housing and jobs more than zoning? They are more interested in paying the rent and safe streets , instead of preserving the historic charm of Evanston? What is wrong with these people?

      What neighbors should really do is consider a historic district for the area and try to preserve the pattern of the neighborhoods – they also need to market the area better to other families to encourage people to move into the area.

      Sure..what west Evanston needs is a ‘historic district’ , to prevent development. That will solve things. And what’s this business about how they should ‘try to preserve the pattern of the neighborhoods’? The history of west Evanston is one of de facto segregation and neglect by the city. When people talk about how wonderful Evanston was before the condos and development, they are talking nonsense. Downtown Evanston was quiet and dreary, and west Evanston was ignored. Keeping out developers just preserves the old, neglected west side.

      The west side needs MORE development. Perhaps the city could start the ball rolling by selling its ancient, costly Civic Center and moving to the west side.
      Sell the lot on Ridge to developers. The new modern Civic Center center would be less costly to maintain, and more accessible to the residents of the west and south sides. { And, as an added bonus, more difficult for the people up north…but they could all just car pool in their Volvos whenever they wanted to speak out against development. }

  4. West Side Plan
    I am truly amazed at the self interest group(s) in Evanston that is opposed to the West Side Development. All they want to do is to feed their pockets and really do n ot care about increasing the beauty of the neighborhoods. I do agree, if you ride around on the west side, you see the poor conditions of the people and homes living in the area. We need to develop the west side and the City need to help the home owners who are currently staying to fix up their homes via a grant so they can be proud of the area they live in as well while freezing the taxes for these home owners. A lot of these people who are complaining really are not interested in area on the west side even tho they live their. I am tired of these supposely dedicated people who love the area so much but, who are only interested in their little piece of land. If someone is renting to low income folks, and feel their taxes are going to go up, so be it. I can tell you, they would not be in the renting business if they were not filling their pockets with money. Please, give me a break! So, let the west side development continue and all I ask is that the city help the current home owners with some sort of package or grant to ease the pinch and let them live with pride helping to repair their current home without costing the owner more money. This would be a great incenitive to rebuilding the community and the continued development of the west side. Looks great for the City and nice publicity City helping to keep our neighborhoods diverse and a City that works. So, stop the bickering and stop looking at my area and look at the big picture. The west side need new development but, to the City of Evanston, we need to look at a package deal that would help the current owners with the repair or rehabing of their current resident while freezing taxes for the next 10 – 15 years in this area. Maybe, you need (City) to partner with a non for profit org that rebuilds or repair homes I mean a real construction company based on income to get this completed. You currently have a program, but, it need to expand with addl help from business(s). Thank you

    1. No thank you
      “The west side need new development but, to the City of Evanston, we need to look at a package deal that would help the current owners with the repair or rehabing of their current resident while freezing taxes for the next 10 – 15 years in this area.”

      Someone please correct me if I am wrong. But wouldn’t a freeze on West Side taxes force every one else in the City to be paying more in their own property taxes to compensate?

  5. West Side Development — Yes!
    We need the tax revenue. This town doesn’t operate on vague notions about increased job training and affordable housing. The programs that we already have are costly. So let’s generate some more revenue to help pay for what we already have. Developers are entitled to make a profit and they should if they build units that people want to buy.

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