Trammel Crow Chicago Development presented plans for a 10-story mixed-use office building at 1732-34-40 Orrington Ave. to the Design and Plan Review Committee at a special online meeting the morning of Jan. 5. The committee unanimously approved the proposal, which will also require approval from the Land Use Commission and City Council.

The development, which, according to city filings, “aims to attract a broad range of science and technology users seeking research & development space in Evanston and the North Shore community,” replaces both a Burger King franchise, vacant since December 2020, and a residential building at the southwest corner of Orrington Avenue and Clark Street.

Trammell Crow Chicago Development, Inc. Zoning Map amendment, planned development and special use applications, 1740 Orrington Ave. (Screenshot from packet)

The site is currently zoned for the D2 Downtown Retail Core District. Developers will need a site-rezoning to D3 Downtown Core Development District. They are also asking for approval for a special use for a planned development and their required allowances for its proposed 7.0 floor area ratio, 149.5’ height, modifications to the street’s ziggurat setback requirement and number of parking spots.     

Initial plans call for a lower-level parking garage, first-floor lobby, eight levels of business-use space, 10th-floor indoor rooftop amenities and a rooftop penthouse for mechanicals. The development also includes 35 parking stalls, eight motorcycle stalls and one loading space. 

John Carlson of Trammel Crow said the life-science and -research facility would offer “a little bit of a different strain of office facility” given its focus, and would be comparable to facilities in Chicago or on the East or West Coasts.

Trammel Crow, whose local headquarters are in Oak Brook, opened a similar facility, the 14-story Fulton Labs, at 1375 W. Fulton St. in Chicago in 2021. Another Fulton Labs development at 400 N. Aberdeen St. in Chicago is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2022.

The company is building the Evanston facility on spec, so no tenants are currently being proposed. Officials will aim for a LEED Silver certification, but architect Matt Blewitt of Minneapolis-based ESG Architecture & Design acknowledged that lab buildings “pose challenges because they use energy differently.” He added, however, that, “Our goals go beyond LEED in some ways.”

Committee officials made their approval contingent on a few minor factors noted by Jessica Hyink, the City’s Transportation and Mobility Coordinator: Bike racks installed according to Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals guidelines, sidewalks carried seamlessly through the alley, pedestrian walkway maintained between the building and patio, and proposed showers for locker rooms indicated on Trammel Crow’s building plans.

Council member Clare Kelly (1st Ward) was optimistic and complimentary about the proposal, but nevertheless expressed concern that the building’s exterior wall would face west rather than be more flush with other buildings to the south. Carlson said that spatial logistics ultimately determined the building’s positioning. Kelly called the location “an extremely important corner” for the neighborhood.

Carlson also noted that Trammel Crow was working with the city’s law department to assure that the facility will remain in private hands and not be at future risk of falling off the local tax-rolls.