The AMLI-Evanston project would stretch south along Chicago Avenue from Kedzie Street, and around the corner east on Kedzie. Live/work lofts and storefronts on Chicago Avenue flank a central entry into the resdiential area. Rendering courtesy of BOL Architects

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The City’s Site Plan and Appearance Review Committee (SPARC) has given unanimous approval to plans for a development that wraps around the southeast corner of Chicago Avenue and Kedzie Street. The proposed mixed-use project is essentially the same one approved by City Council in 2008, said Steve Ross of AMLI Residential Development and Evanston Devco LLC.

The original project included 217 residential units, approximately 8,400 square feet of retail space and about 20 storefront live/work spaces along Chicago Avenue. The new proposal has 214 residential units, 19 live/work spaces and approximately 7,500 square feet of retail space.

The plans also call for a semi-public plaza at the Chicago/Kedzie corner.

The Aug. 18 request approval of the project came just a few weeks after the City sold its parking lot there to the developer, a measure that had been contemplated when City Council gave its approval in 2008.

In the intervening years, however, the appraised value of the property had dropped, and the contract price of $900,000 – based on a 2007 appraisal – was reduced to about $770,000 for the May sale, in line with a more recent appraisal.

Deena Roumeliotis of Balsam Olson and Lewis Architects said the use of various colors of bricks would offer relief from the mass of the buildings: above the uniform “pedestal” or street-level color, there will be a band of quarry stone of a “bright color that would break up the massing levels.” On Chicago Avenue, she said, there would be a “strong entry feature” into the complex.

“Roof-scapes” on some of the second floors will provide some sustainability elements, said Nick Patera of Teska Associates landscape designers, with creek rocks and a planted roof. At street level, planters between the storefronts and one or more bike racks are some of the improvements planned for Chicago Avenue. Trees along that side would be planted in the typical street-level grates, but along Kedzie Avenue they would be planted in larger, longer boxes.

The building’s setbacks and a widened curb would essentially convert the sidewalk along Chicago Avenue from a single-file to a pedestrian walkway. Neighborhood input seems to have played a part in the planning.

Mr. Patera said the plaza was a result of several meetings with neighbors. Alderman Melissa Wynne, in whose Third Ward the site lies, said in May that the project had had more residents’ input than do many projects.

“We have financing and we’re ready to break ground,” said Mr. Ross. The committee’s recommendation will be forwarded ultimately to the City Council, which has the final authority to approve the project.

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...