Evanston City Council members on October 11th approved a five-story, 116-unit, mixed-use development for 1012 Chicago Avenue longstanding footholds on the block.
The site extends from 1012 to 1034 Chicago Ave. and housed Richard Fisher’s Autobarn and the nearly 90-year-old carpet shop Oscar Isberian Rugs.
A rendering of the five-story, 116-unit mixed-use construction on Chicago Ave. 1012, approved by Evanston City Council on October 11th (Image taken from City of Evanston materials)
The project has had a long start. Fisher and Oscar Tatosian, owners of the carpet store, announced their plans for the project early on and asked the community for comments on what residents would see as part of the redevelopment.
Once known as Evanston’s “Automobile Row” because of the cluster of car dealerships, the street has seen its own makeover in the past few decades as these shops have been replaced by housing developments.
The applicant, Stan Bernshteyn from MCZ Development, had applied for a number of development grants from the city for the project, which is located in the commercial mixed-use area.
The developer applied for permits to allow a 116-unit rental building where 78 are allowed; Build to a height of 80.5 feet, with a height of 67 feet permitted; and reduce the number of off-street parking spaces from 75 to 58, officials said. The project also includes 5,822 square feet of retail space on the ground floor.
Fleming asks for larger units
During the council discussion on October 11th, councilor Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, noted the property developer’s compliance with the Municipal Housing Ordinance (IHO). The ordinance requires that the developer make 10% of the residential units affordable for people whose income is 60% or less of the median income.
The developer is providing 10 inclusive residential units on site: a studio, seven one-room apartments and two two-room apartments, employees reported.
Fleming, whose station is just south, asked if there had been any discussion during the trial about increasing the number of two-bedroom units.
Councilor Melissa Wynne, in whose third ward the site is located, said officials spoke to developers about their unit mix. “
She said she was also very happy with the number of living and work units the developers are adding, mixed-use spaces that allow for both a business and living space for its owner or one or more employees.
Fleming also put her question to Johanna Nyden, the town’s community development director, about adding two-bedroom units “as we learn more and more about the need for larger units for families.”
Nyden said that her department generally holds a meeting with the developers before the city’s design and project review committee reviews a project, and that the unit mix was what the developer was able to provide on the project.
“Of course we want more and more bigger units,” said Nyden.
“We are happy there [are] more one-bedroom, not more studios, and we’re glad there are two-bedroom units, “she added,” because sometimes developers don’t want to offer two-bedroom units at an affordable price. “
In such cases Fleming replied, “That doesn’t mean we can’t ask for more.”
“As we keep hearing about the need for affordable housing … as a city we just have to push ourselves not to, just not be happy that people are doing things and actually have requirements that the size of the units more than only require the number. ”of units.
“I’ve been sitting here for four years and we’ve done a lot of studios and efficiencies and one-bedroom and so on and so on,” she said, “and so we move the needle with this one, but at this rate.” That’s how far we get just never come. “
Fleming suggested that it might be time for officials to look at the IHO and consider making changes to “not just the percentage” [of affordable units] but actually the size of the units. “
“We have the power here,” she said, “to raise our standards.”
Nyden suggested that there will be an opportunity to do so as the IHO is due for an update before the council.
Overall, of the 116 units in the project, 1012 Chicago Ave. 16 studios, 80 one-room apartments, 12 two-room apartments and eight residential units.
Avoidance of a “blood bath” through zoning
Wynne spoke of efforts to get the developer to meet the needs of the community.
“We met with the developer very early on during the shutdown and actually talked to him a lot,” she said. She said the discussions included the Chicago Avenue Corridor Plan, a planning document that outlines a long-term vision for the street.
As a result of the effort, she said, “They pushed the building back from the property line; They adjusted to the fact that they didn’t have an alley in the back – that’s on the train tracks – and they were willing to listen to the staff for the live work units that we know are also very desirable in the community . “
She pointed out that these units are “also far removed from the tiny units that we have seen prevalence in other parts of the city … and their rents are not what we would call luxury rents”.
“These are all things that were really important when I and the staff spoke to these developers when they made their suggestion,” said Wynne.
“I also made it very clear to them,” she revealed, “that we are not interested in having a zone fight with them, that they really have to pay attention to our zone rules and what our employees and the community say.” them if they really wanted a successful project.
“So there has been some discussion, and frankly, because [with] this time we don’t have a bloodbath at P&D [the Council’s Planning and Development Committee] and the city above, I think it’s proof that we have some developers who are paying attention. “
The Development Council agreed with a score of 9: 0.