At a City Council meeting in late November, a special use zoning application for an adult day care facility on Davis Street was introduced with a recommendation that the application be denied. On Dec. 13, Council completely reversed itself and approved the special use permit. As a result, a center offering day activities for active seniors will be coming to Davis Street just east of Chicago very soon.
Alderman Donald Wilson, 4th Ward, set the tone by saying, “Having considered this further … my view has changed.” Two reports provided by the City, as well as a plea from Ted Mavrakis, property-owner and prospective landlord, helped change his vote, he said.
A rental market overview provided by Johanna Nyden, the City’s economic development planner, showed that the Evanston rental market has a vacancy rate about 4 percent higher than the general Chicago area market. The report indicated vacancy of at least 3,000 square feet since 2008. A report from Evanston’s health director, Evonda Thomas, who visited the applicant’s existing adult day-care facility in Lincolnwood, showed compliance with the five pages of state regulations that apply to such enterprises.
Opposition remained, however. Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said that her constituents were universally opposed to the proposed use. Instead, she said, a retail use, particularly for a first-floor, downtown space, was needed.
Given the current state of the economy, said Ald. Wilson, Council was not in a position to pick and choose among possible tenants. “At some point, we have to start saying ‘yes’ to things,” he said, noting that the space had been vacant for a long time.
Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, opposed the measure for a different reason entirely. Despite compliance with state regulations, she voiced concern over “the number of staff people to provide supervision for adult day care. … I would be concerned about their care.” Ald. Wilson said he was comfortable as long as state regulations were followed.
Alderman Melissa Wynne, 3rd Ward, said she worried about the facility’s van using the alley to pick up and drop off passengers. But the applicant said that the alley was actually a better option for drop off because of additional space that allowed for additional safety.
Ald. Fiske proposed an amendment that would give preference to Evanston residents who wanted to participate in the program. Alderman Lionel Jean-Baptiste proposed an amendment requiring the facility to allow participants to come and go as they pleased, ensuring that seniors would not be locked into the building but instead free to shop the streets of Evanston as they pleased. Both amendments passed.
At City Council, the about-face was completed with an 8-1 vote, with Ald. Holmes voting no.