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Evanston Devco LLC is seeking to consolidate the purchase of three parcels of property along south Chicago Avenue and obtain zoning relief that would allow it to build a mixed-use residential and retail project there. The City of Evanston owns one of the parcels in the 700 block of Chicago Avenue, and aldermen planned to vote on the sale at the Sept. 8 meeting. Difficult discussions at the Council level led to a decision to hold the matter over until at least Sept. 22.

Aldermen requested at the August City Council meeting that the legal department protect the City in the sales transaction by adding a “reverter” clause, stating that if the project were not begun and continued in a timely fashion, the property would revert to the City. Aldermen also requested removal of language that appeared to allow Evanston Devco to sell the property to another developer as long as the new purchaser promised to build substantially the same project.

Ivan Kane, lawyer for the developer, tried to discourage the aldermen from using the reverter clause, saying several times at the Sept. 8 City Council meeting that Devco was committed to the project. “This property is part of an assemblage of three different properties. … A reverter is a very extraordinary thing. … We’re committed to this project,” he said. “If this project is approved, we’ll start building in the spring.” He also said, though, “Let’s step back and make sure we don’t kill what looks like a good thing.”

By the end of the discussion, both sides appeared to agree that Devco would make a substantial beginning on the project and “diligently pursue” the project. Mr. Kane and City staff said they would try to work out other mutually acceptable language for the ordinance for the sale of the City-owned Chicago Avenue property.

The Project

Evanston Devco LLC proposed a mixed-use development at 631-749 Chicago Ave. in two new, separate-but-connected buildings, with 232 dwelling units, approximately 8,400 square feet of retail commercial space on the ground floor, and approximately 329 parking spaces distributed both below and above ground within the two buildings. The owner is seeking approval of the project as a planned development.