Downtown Evanston is not just a location but also the name of the property owners’ association there, and the organization’s annual meeting offered a glimpse of the near future for both.
Downtown Evanston, The Place
Zoning changes for the place that is the heart of the City will soon be presented to the City Council, said Dennis Marino, assistant director of community and economic development for the City. These changes will embody those approved in the downtown plan adopted last year by City Council. The plan embodies some of the principles of “new urbanism” – a dense city core with pedestrian-friendly amenities and transit-oriented development. Form-based zoning – which takes into consideration the character of adjacent and surrounding areas – will likely replace the current piecemeal planned-development approach to new construction. Height and density above the zoning limits – which, if disproportionate, can make a development seem oppressive – would be awarded as “bonuses” for public benefits such as plazas and wider sidewalks.
Once the zoning changes have worked their way through the zoning committee of the Plan Commission, the full Plan Commission will hold a public hearing and then make recommendations to City Council, which has the ultimate authority to approve or change them, Mr. Marino said.
Carolyn Dellutri, executive director of the organization formerly called Evmark and now called Downtown Evanston, said the organization continues to grow and to pursue its goals of promoting the City’s downtown area as a destination for shopping and dining and as an attractive location for businesses.
In addition to annual festivities such as dancing on the plaza in August, “Big Bite Night,” a taste of downtown Evanston for Northwestern University students, and the holiday tree-lighting festivities, Downtown Evanston is planning a spring and a fall event next year. For the holiday season, the organization is promoting gift cards valued “anywhere from $5 to $500,” which can be used at any of 110 businesses in the downtown area Ms. Dellutri said. Other efforts by Downtown Evanston include the shared maintenance of the area, watering the plants in the large planters in the downtown area, keeping the sidewalks clean and, in the winter months, snow-free.