Rendering looking southeast down Chicago Avenue near Davis Street.From City of Evanston Economic Development Committee packet.

On Feb. 12, Quadrangle Development Company of Deerfield presented its plans for an eight-story extended-stay hotel with 116 rooms and 34 parking spaces at a pre-application conference with the City’s Site Plan and Appearance Review Committee (SPAARC). The hotel would be built “under the Janko [Hospitality LLC] group flag,” said Thomas Blunk, head of the development team, and would bear the Hyatt Hotels standard.  The site, 1515 Chicago Ave., has been vacant for more than two years, since its previous owner demolished the buildings there.

Janko has completed several types of projects, including several seven- and eight-story buildings. They try to design buildings to the scale of the neighborhood, said Mr. Blunk.

The development team is seeking allowances for open parking on the north and south sides and for rear setbacks. Benefits to the City from this $120 million project, said Mr. Blunk, would include increases in the City’s tax base and its hotel-tax revenues. The project would generate about 200 construction jobs and the hotel, when finished, would also bolster pedestrian traffic, he said.

Mark Muenzer of the City’s Economic Development Division said that since the breakfast restaurant would not be open to the public, “that would detract from pedestrian traffic.” He asked whether the area could be open to the public, and Mr. Blunk said they would “look into that.”

Architect  Devon Patterson, a design principal of Solomon Cordwell Buenz, said he had considered the height of several buildings in the neighborhood in designing the new building. The hotel would have a fitness room, a pool and a game room and an outside area for grilling. Most of the units will be one- or two-bedroom, he said, and about two-thirds of them will have kitchenettes. “People want a home-away-from-home and a kitchen-away-from-kitchen,” he said.

Mr. Patterson said the development would seek silver LEED certification, a designation from the Green Building Council.

Mr. Patterson said he expects the typical stay to be “just over five days.”

 Parking would be primarily onsite, he said, and loading and off-loading would be in the alley.  There would be four solid-waste receptacles – three for trash and one for recycling – so garbage pickup will be once per week. Since there will be an on-site laundry, there will be no delivery trucks, said Mr. Blunk.

Judy Fiske, alderman of the First Ward, where the property lies, said some neighbors had concerns about the setbacks in the north-south alley. Possible alley congestion seemed to worry several residents, who spoke about the difficulty of navigating narrow alleys amid deep snow piles. Others seemed to be concerned about the relatively small setback for an eight-story building.

“I’m very concerned about the traffic in winter, and about [the project’s] going right up to the property lines,” said Betty Hayford.

An elm tree at the site is beloved by many, and several neighbors asked that it not be cut down. “It is more than just a tree,” said Claire Fisher. “There’s a songbird that lives there.”

“What you will be doing, as all smart contractors do, is tak[ing] a survey of the condition of all the buildings in the area [in case any damage is done or alleged],” said Walter Hallen, SPAARC chair.

The committee approved the project, contingent upon staff approval of the building materials before the hotel’s development team appears before the Plan Commission.