What aldermen want in new tower plan

Evanston aldermen Monday provided developers of the proposed Fountain Square tower a wish list of suggestions for how to revise their project.

After the developers asked for time to revamp the plan and reduce the now 49-story height of the development, Alderman Steve Bernstein, 4th Ward, said, "Personally, I’d like you to consider meaningful public benefits."

"Lopping some floors off would probably be accommodating, but something needs to come to the City of Evanston," Bernstein said, "When you said you weren’t going to restore the Hahn Building unless you got $3 million of city funds, that’s not a public benefit."

Bernstein also said he wanted the developers to guarantee that they would achieve green building certification and agree to penalty provisions if they fail to win it.

And he said the original design’s elimination of all office space and reduced retail square footage at the site amounts to "a net loss, not a public benefit."

Aldermen Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, and Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, said they agreed with Bernstein’s concerns.

Wynne said removing office space from the 708 Church St. site would erase an "enormous economic engine in our downtown."

"We can put luxury condos in lots of places and people will still buy them and have nice views of the lake," Wynne said, "but I don’t see us replacing incredibly valuable office space in anyplace but the core of downtown."

Wynne, who chairs the council’s Parking Committee, said she also fears the loss of the office space would reduce revenue to the city’s parking system.

Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptist, 2nd Ward, said he would like the developers to consider rebuilding the Fountain Square plaza as a public benefit.

But Alderman Cheryl Wollin, 1st Ward, said that the aldermen had previously rejected the developers’ proposal to collaborate on redoing Fountain Square. She suggested the developers’ role should be limited to providing design help for the plaza project.

The aldermen disagreed about how they should review a revised proposal after it is initially presented by the developers on Tuesday April 8.

Alderman Wynne said she believed the project should be sent back to the Plan Commission, but Alderman Holmes suggested waiting to see what the new proposal looks like before making that decision.

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