The new 35-story plan for the 708 Church St. tower in Evanston includes two major design changes.

Compared to the previous 38-story story design, the midsection of the new design from Booth-Hansen architects has a smaller setback from the property line.

New 5th floor layout
The new design

The new design shows the tower with just a 10-foot setback from the retail and parking deck base at its narrowest points, compared to a substantially larger setback on three of the four sides in the 38-story design presented last year.


The old design

The other major difference is that in the new design the tower steps back from the street in three stages rather than two.


A rendering of the new tower design viewed from the south on Sherman Avenue.

In the old design both “wings” of the tower ended at the 24th floor. In the new design the west wing ends at the 15th floor, while the east wing rises to the 25th floor.

The old design had three condo units on the fifth floor, nine on the 6th through 24th floors and two on the tower floors above that.

In the new design there are four condo units on the fifth floor, 10 on floors 6 through 15, eight on floors 16 through 25, and two on the tower floors above that.

The net result is that the new design has a total of 204 condo units, two more than in last year’s design.

The Planning and Development Committee of the City Council will hold a special meeting to discuss the Fountain Square tower project at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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11 Comments

    1. This building is totally out
      This building is totally out of place for Evanston. Get rid of the city council. VOTE ALL OF THEM OUT!

      1. Windmills!!!!
        Lets just build a huge windmill where the tower would be… 30′ blades, 200′ feet high.

        And paint it green.

  1. Why is this necessary?
    Is every unit in every new condo in Evanston filled?
    Who has money to buy condo’s?
    Why does Evanston need this?
    Why don’t the developers go elsewhere, and bother
    some other quaint burb?
    Please. We are so sick of this ‘plan that will not die’.
    Go Away!

    1. Re: Why is this necessary?
      Q: Is every unit in every new condo in Evanston filled?
      A: For the most part, yes. While I’m sure there are a few empty unsold units here and there, both in terms of condos and single family homes, there is not a glut of unsold newly constructed condos. To be clear, the burden to sell condos is on the developer, not the city. The developer will sell them, the only question is at what price.

      Q: Who has money to buy condo’s?
      A: Hundreds of people are buying condo’s in the Chicago area every month and right now they are getting some great deals. The Evanston real estate market has not fallen as much as surrounding communities and Evanston has a lot to offer, including a potentially vibrant downtown with close access to public transportation, shopping and dining. We all chose to live in Evanston, and most of us paid a lot of money for our homes, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that others want the same.

      Q: Why does Evanston need this?
      A: I’ll leave it up to the marketing experts to decide if Evanston “needs” it, but once the building is done and additional new residents move in, it will breathe new life into Evanston’s downtown retail and restaurant markets. The Sherman Plaza development has had a major (and positive) impact on that block, the Church Street Plaza project has proven to be a major magnet for downtown. While this new project doesn’t include a theater or a Borders-sized retail space, I’d suspect that the 708 Church project will still provide additional downtown economic benefits. Existing downtown retail and restaurants will see new growth from the additional residents living above it, and the new commercial spaces will attract high quality tenants. Any retailer with a business background knows that the best thing for business is healthy competition and plenty of customers.

      Q: Why don’t the developers go elsewhere, and bother
      some other quaint burb?
      A: I’m sure they are “bothering” lots of other communities, since development is rarely a popular proposition. They want to be in Evanston because Evanston is an attractive community. Evanston is a “quaint burb” with a vibrant and growing downtown area. If quiet streets and front yards are what you seek, Evanston can offer that. It can also offer an opportunity to live in a maintenance free condo that is steps from shopping, restaurants and public transportation.

      1. Condo sales
        Check with a realtor — there are over 400 condos on the market right now.

        Yes, many are rented. Like 40% at Sherman Plaza — owners could not flip them or could not sell existing homes.

        Vibrant indeed.

  2. This tower is why we have to throw the bums out in April.
    This tower is why we have to throw the bums out in April.

  3. Higher with larger set backs
    Wouldn’t three more stories and a larger set back have been preferable? Was it really worth the battle to lob off three stories?

    Quaint burb? Evanston? I don’t think so. It hasn’t been for quite some time. Perhaps you’re thinking of Kenilworth? Evanston is a robust, vibrant community and those of us (the majority I might add) who support the tower like it that way!

  4. I think that most people are
    I think that most people are needlessly riled up. This building will never be built. We have entered a long dark night for real estate which no amount of “stimulus” will brighten.

    I suspect that the tower developers are fools to move ahead unless they have cause to expect to be bailed out by taxpayers once their project does the inevitable belly-up.

    How much of Sherman Plaza is occupied much less owner occupied? How many $400+/sf Winthrop Club condo units are going to be closed on now that the construction is nearing completion? Half of Sienna has been abandoned by the developer. How many units in the Grand Bend at Ridge and Emerson are now occupied?

    I live in a high rise downtown and personally have no strong opinion about this proposed project one way or the other. My only fear is that a continuing economic meltdown could get it abandoned by the developer once construction is underway.

    As a condition for approval, perhaps the city should demand that sufficient funds be placed in escrow to ensure completion if the project, counter to all common sense, actually does move ahead.

    1. Re: I think most people are
      Q: How much of Sherman Plaza is occupied much less owner occupied?
      A: 100% of the residential is owned by someone and the developer is no longer involved in the project. I’ve heard figures that 35%-40% of those units are being rented, but they are not being rented by the developer, so I’m not sure what difference this makes to people outside the condo association, though it might have an impact on sales prices for units within the building. I’m guessing that 80% of the retail is occupied, with the notable exceptions being Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa and the Pier One spaces being empty.

      Q: How many $400+/sf Winthrop Club condo units are going to be closed on now that the construction is nearing completion?
      A: According to the developers published numbers, they had sold over 50% of the units by the end of Q3 in 2008. Sales have met or exceeded their expectations, despite the downturn in the economy. (Most financing arrangements for projects of this type require 50% sold before construction can begin, though apparently that wasn’t the case with the Winthrop Club, since it’s been under construction for a while now.)

      Q: How many units in the Grand Bend at Ridge and Emerson are now occupied?
      A: No idea, perhaps someone else on here has some insight on this? I do know that the developer is renting some of the units, so I’d suspect a fair number are empty and unsold. To be fair, the Grand Bend is not exactly a direct comparison to 708 Church in terms of location. Sherman Plaza and the Winthrop Club are better comparisons as they are within the core downtown area where Grand Bend is right on the outskirts of downtown and at a rather awkward intersection with no retail or pedestrian activity.

      1. The point of my earlier
        The point of my earlier comment above is that the condo market in Evanston, downtown or elsewhere, is now saturated. I heard that many Sherman Plaza units were purchased by flippers who are now trapped into renting out their units and are now most likely losing money on the deal.

        People have suddenly shifted their priorities from indulging their every whim to spending only on absolute essentials. Lowly Walmart is thriving while upscale Saks 5th Avenue and Nieman Marcus are insolvent. I suspect that not many of those who signed contracts for Winthrop Club will actually close this spring especially since they will be underwater on move-in day. Paying a huge premium for conceits such as designer plumbing fixtures and granite counter tops is no longer a savvy investment decision.

        Considering that everything being done by the national government will serve to prolong the economic agony and kill off a quick recovery, I wouldn’t be concerned that the proposed Tower will get off the drawing boards anytime soon, if ever.

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