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ZBA gets nonprofit’s plan for retail incubator

A conceptual rendering of The AUX.

Evanston’s Zoning Board of Appeals is scheduled Tuesday evening to review plans to turn the former EZ Spuds property at 2223 Washington St. into a multi-use business incubator called The AUX.

A newly formed nonprofit called The Growing Season plans to spend $6 million to acquire and renovate the former wholesale foods operation into the home for businesses ranging from a meditation studio to a laundromat. The backers say they’ve raised $750,000 for the project so far.

Plans for The AUX were presented at Thursday’s 2nd Ward meeting by Tosha Wilson, an Evanston police officer, who plans to operate The Laundry Café at the site with her cousin Jacqui White.

Tosha Wilson.

Other businesses lined up to use space in the renovated building included Ramaa Krishnan’s Full Bloomed Lotus, Gabori Partee and Tiffini Holmes’s Well Being Chicago, Quisha Ibraheem’s Chef Q’s Kitchen and the entrepreneurship training program Sunshine Enterprises.

The group also plans to offer pop-up market spaces for local business owners and entrepreneurs to showcase and sell handmade goods.

At Thursday’s meeting some neighbors voiced concerns about traffic that might be generated by the new operation that’s on the boundary between a commercial district and a residential neighborhood.

A cul de sac blocks access from Washington Street to the east and the primary access now is from Main Street down a narrow street called Pitner Alley.

2223 Washington St. (Google Maps)

Wilson said she she’s working with the owners of the shopping center to the west of the site to open up access from that direction as well as gain additional parking at the shopping center.

She said there are no plans to ask the city to invest money in the project and that the businesses will be paying taxes to the city.

Community Development Director Johanna Nyden said the project does not require a zoning change, although it will require City Council approval of a special use permit for the new uses.


Update 2/17/21: The ZBA voted 4-1 Tuesday night to recommend that the City Council approve the project.


Related story

Mixed use retail planned for former E-Z Spuds site (2/4/21)

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