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September 26, 2017


Posted: Friday, September 22, 2017
Community forum entry by: Michael Landau

I am concerned about proposed Albion luxury high-rise project on Sherman Avenue. The size and scale of the building does not fit in with the block at all. This project represents a tipping point in the number of developer driven high-rise apartments in Evanston. It would absolutely transform the historic face of downtown Evanston replacing old, well-established businesses with cold, impersonal, wind-producing monstrosities that are totally out of character for our town.

Someone, or group of people in Evanston is obviously hell-bent on packing people into downtown Evanston like sardines. It will cause population density to skyrocket, and overcrowding, congestion, and crime are sure to follow. I understand that in small towns, there are often a small handful of people that run everything, but I think the behavior of the City Council is absolutely ridiculous. The citizens of Evanston ought to have some say as to what goes on in their city. They do have these meetings where people do have the opportunity to get up and make comments, and ask questions, but from what I've seen, the comments and questions are mostly ignored to the point where it seems to be that the decision to build these buildings has already been made even before the planning committee meetings are held. Not to mention the fact that although politicians are not known for their ability to make speedy decisions, when they want to make public opposition difficult, they can certainly speed through the approval process as they have done with similar high-rise buildings in the past, and are currently doing with this project.

The traffic in downtown Evanston is already very bad. The block on which this project will be built is one of the last quiet blocks in Evanston. This project will fill the street with noisy traffic. Downtown Evanston is a small place with very little parking. How many more people can fit in Evanston, and have it maintain its peaceful character? Already, there are blocks in Evanston that are so crowded, and congested that I cannot go down certain blocks without help from my personal care attendant to ask people to get out of the way so that I can drive my wheelchair down the sidewalk.

I really enjoy eating at Prairie Moon, and Tommy Nevin's pub. Both of these restaurants have ample table space for wheelchairs, but they will be torn down, and relocated. I am worried that their new locations will not have enough wheelchair accessible space for patrons. There are fewer and fewer large restaurants in Evanston. They are going out of business, and being replaced by small restaurants with very few wheelchair accessible tables. I hope that the new locations for these restaurants will have as many wheelchair accessible tables as they do now.

I realize that sometimes things need to change, but there is a right way to do things, and a wrong way to do things, and building high-rises like this is definitely the wrong way. There actually is a downtown plan for Evanston that was unanimously approved in 2009. It is not being followed. Why can’t we have a sensible plan for the development of downtown Evanston? That’s a question that I’ve been asking a lot recently, and so far, no one has answered it.

Posted: Thursday, September 21, 2017
Community forum entry by: Matt Dinerstein

I’m writing in to express my concerns with the proposed Albion Residential project on Sherman Ave.
This proposed 298 unit building has one third (1/3rd) of current zoning required parking spots for a building of this size. As you probably are aware, there are already too few available parking spots in downtown Evanston, and this has become a real problem. As a matter of fact, I’d rather shop in Old Orchard because of the lack of parking in our commercial areas, and I often reconsider both shopping and dining in downtown Evanston. I prefer to travel to a place like Wilmette or other suburbs with plenty of available and free parking. I’m not the only one who does this, as evidenced by the number of long time businesses closing.

If we supersede our own zoning laws, created for quality of life residency, we overlook the residents of Evanston and replace them with conditions of ‘big city’ living vs sub-urban life.

Posted: Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Community forum entry by: Jeremy Vannatta

September 15 - Moms Score! Come to the east side of Robert Crown Center to the Mettle Sports Street soccer pitches for an evening of soccer, mom bonding and wine (served indoors). This is an opportunity to bond with other moms away from the rest of your family and responsibilities.

Posted: Saturday, September 9, 2017
Community forum entry by: Greg Williams

Open Letter About 1450-1508 Sherman Ave.
It is good to see the documents as submitted for the 1450-1508 Sherman Avenue Project, especially the Zoning Analysis re-submittals, which clearly highlight the reasons for the disbelief expressed in the comments from Evanston neighbors.
The underlying zoning for this site is D4, setting limits for height and density. The Zoning Analyses note that the designation as a Planned Development enables some extensions to these limits, and proceeds to indicate the extents to which this Project exceeds those bonuses, by margins of 15% to 300%. On these elements the Analysis correctly deems the Project to be NON-COMPLIANT.
To catalog these excesses: Height: D4 limit is 105’ PUD extends limit to 145’ Project requests 178’ to roof, 192’ to mech. 20% over PUD Density: D4 limit is 5.4 FAR PUD extends to 6.0 Project requests FAR 6.90. 15% over PUD # Units: By site area, per D4 limits, the maximum # units is 93 Project requests 287 Units. 300% over limit Parking: By # bedrooms for 287 units, parking required is 389 spaces Project provides 185. 50% of required.
The gross excesses beyond the Zoning parameters foment this citizen consternation, “Why do we even have zoning guidelines if they are not followed?” The excesses also provide the basis for the visually obvious, that the building is too plain and large and further the traffic/planning contortions at the Ground Floor.
As noted by the City, the building does appear to have been dropped from above, and the tall columns at the south end have a gargantuan scale. Also as noted, the lower retail block does appear as long and monotonous. The architect noted a relation to the curve of the adjacent tracks, and the angle of the street grid to the east, fostering a drawn curve for a building shape.
There appears to have been little development beyond that first drawn curve. A north-south building with long east and west faces suffers the worst possible solar orientation. These long flat glass and silver-panel walls will be essentially huge mirrors in the full-on low-angle morning and afternoon sunlight, absorbing great heat and reflecting light as a blinding nuisance to neighbors.
This building orientation is a particular LEED deficit. The long and high west wall will greatly concentrate and echo the sounds from the CTA and Metra trains to the neighbors on the west, also a nuisance. East and west walls should have vertical articulation, both as potential sun control from low-angle light as vertical louvers, and as well as visual interest, what formerly was called “shade and shadow,” as a constantly changing play of light. Horizontal verandas do very little to provide relief on east and west faces, as is gained from the south face balconies, which are very effective.
This building could easily be segmented to provide vertical corners, as visual relief and potential solar shading. The apartment floor plan would definitely benefit with apartment demising walls perpendicular to the corridor, rather than the weird unlivable trapezoids shown. While reducing the height would greatly improve the building’s visual impact, the resulting reduction in density would enable the Ground Floor planning to be similarly improved.
With lower density, the resident parking at the Ground Floor could be eliminated. This would enable the direct relation of service vehicles to the retail spaces and residential lobby and elevators. The current Ground Floor presents many traffic and material conflicts and difficulties: the residential parkers must make an immediate impossible hairpin turn to gain the ramp to the 2nd Floor some resident parking is set at the Ground Floor, some in tandem stalls, separating all truck delivery traffic and material movement from the retail service areas and apartment lobby and elevators.
With this plan, every single item, from beer cases to shoelaces to two guys carrying a couch must go through a double door and across the residential parking lanes and aisles. The truck locations are far removed, are they even covered from the rain? The residential parking ramps should be oriented north-south, so residents can directly rise to the 2nd Floor and also exit directly south to Lake Street.
With the reduction in parking resulting from density reduction, there would be no residential parking at the Ground Floor, leaving the entire space able to accommodate truck locations and all deliveries to take place without interference from and with the residents.
There could then be a proper loading dock, separate access for apartment moving and retail delivery, and more flexibility with the retail space configurations, such as deeper/narrower spaces. Our professional community has been meeting, seeking to define appropriate guidelines for these Evanston developments, toward maintaining the qualitative benefits and sense of life in Evanston.
One has to question the unit ratio of this project, with 80% of units as 1 Bedroom or smaller, and at very high rents. Is there really that particular demand? And at each of these new developments? I myself have been an Evanston landlord for 42 years, offering 2 bedroom apartments for young couples, recently divorced single parents and new Americans eager to attend Evanston schools. Several of these tenants I count as lifelong friends. None of these tenants could afford the rents proposed for this project.
In summary, the Sherman Avenue Project is too visually large and factually dense, by the nominal 20% that it exceeds the generous bonuses already allowed by the PUD guidelines provides no appropriate visual interest or improvement in context with Evanston is handicapped by planning complexities resulting from excess scale and promotes little to the quality of life for current and future Evanston residents, while causing a discriminatory increase in rental rates.
As Evanston neighbors, we do question the allowances to developers beyond the guidelines of the Zoning Code. As evidenced in the interest surrounding the mayoral election, we all have a heightened awareness, supplemented each day in the news, of the potential of our elected officials to impart influence, and want to be involved to help ensure we can all promote the Evanston we love.

Posted: Saturday, September 9, 2017
Community forum entry by: Seth Weinberger

Open Letter to Members of the City’s Plan Commission: Jim Ford, Chair Colby Lewis Terri Dubin Carol Goddard Andrew Pigozzi Simon Belisle Peter Isaac Patrick Brown Jolene Saul Scott Peters
I am a former Chairman of the Evanston Zoning Board of Appeals, and this is the first time since my retirement from the Zoning Board that I have felt compelled to publicly oppose any proposal for construction in Evanston.
I vehemently oppose the proposal for a 287-unit rental building on Sherman Avenue. The proposed building site is in a D4 transition district, with zoning requirements specifically geared towards creating a transition between the height and mass of core downtown and the residential areas around it.
The proposed building is the antithesis of a transition. It continues the mass of the Rotary Building into the D4 district. The combination of the variances being sought for height, FAR and ziggurat setback would enable the developer to build a structure that is more than double the volume of what could be built on this property if the height, FAR and ziggurat setback requirements were complied with.
That is not a “variation” that is an obliteration of the zoning code. The proposed building also violates the expressed intent to create pedestrian friendly walkways along our most important pedestrian streets. Instead, over half of the building’s frontage on Sherman Avenue would not be set back as required to preserve a pedestrian friendly streetscape.
I urge you to vote against this proposal. I thank you for your service to our city, but I also want to remind you about your responsibility you volunteered for to protect the city from overdevelopment. If you approve this building and it gets built, it will become a monument to your failure to protect our city a very massive monument that you, and many generations after you, will regularly revisit. This is not the legacy we should be leaving from our years of service to our community.

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