City Council voted to introduce but not debate the planned development at 1671 Maple Ave. The 12-story mixed-use development, on the lot made triangular by train tracks south of Davis and next to Elmwood, will come up for debate and vote at the next Council meeting in two weeks.
The project is controversial because it proposes no on-site parking for residents and only 12 spots for retail use. Any resident who wants parking can use one of 101 parking spots leased by the development in the City-owned Maple Street garage about two blocks north of the proposed development.
“We’re taking a risk by not providing any parking,” said Bernard Citron, an attorney representing the developer. But the target tenants, he said, will not have cars. “Everything you need for daily activity is in walking distance,” he said, including access to the Metra and CTA Purple Line.
Opposition came from the One Evanston building just to the south of the proposed tower. Dave Rosen, who owns a condo in that building, said he investigated the 1571 lot when considering whether to buy in One Evanston in 2013, and Evanston staff told him plans for a new arts center were in place. “We were all mislead,” he said.
All others who spoke in opposition were also One Evanston owners. A 12-story building less than 50 feet from their north-facing windows will destroy views and significantly impact the resale value of their investments, they said.
At committee, Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, said “the risk of not providing parking is only a risk to the developer.” She said the City offered plenty of units with on-site parking. The argument that an apartment building offering no parking will self-select residents without cars is “an argument that cannot be defeated…If you had a car, two cars, why the heck would you rent at this location? You wouldn’t,” she said.
Alderman Don Wilson, whose 4th ward includes the site, proposed sending the measure to full Council for a complete debate in two weeks. “I’ve heard from a lot of people who were both for and against” this planned development, he said. “I suggest we advance this to Council for a full discussion and then proceed. In the interim, he suggested, any resident with an opinion or argument in favor or against the development should “express yourself to us.” Council reads and considers all email and other comments, he said.
Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, voted against introduction. “Parking is a huge problem,” she said. She asked about the E2 project on Emerson, and staff confirmed that all parking at E2 was on site.
“If you want to use that building as an example,” said Ald. Rainey, then “use it as an example of how Council should not behave toward a developer.” Carroll Properties was very poorly treated by the City, she said.
“Absolutely,” agreed Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward.
Only Ald. Fiske voted against introduction, which passed at Council 6-1. Alderman Melissa Wynne and Jane Grover – 3rd and 7th wards, respectively – were absent, attending the National League of Cities conference in Washington, D.C.