Council to vote on new Ridge Ave. apartments

Matt Lopas

City Council will likely decide the fate of a controversial apartment complex at at 1930 Ridge Ave. tonight at its meeting.

The 194-complex unit apartment building has drawn sharp criticism from neighborhood residents and aldermen. They cite the traffic, parking and noise problems associated with Northwestern students as major concerns.

“(The building) creates a miniature city with the accompanying social ills,” resident Roberta Hudson said at the Jan. 14 meeting.

At the same meeting, Ald. Joseph Kent (5th) attempted to block the introduction of the proposed building, which would be built in his ward. Kent said Northwestern students’ behavior is more of a problem in the Fifth Ward than it is in other wards.

“We have a large log of complaints to show (the neighbors) don’t trust Northwestern students,” Kent said.

But some NU students reject the neighbors’ claims.

Although Weinberg senior Joanna Beros, who lives on the 1700 block of Ridge, says students are louder than other residents, she said residents’ complaints are unfounded.

“We live here and we pay rent and we have just as much a right to use the parking as they do,” Beros said.

The developer, Atlantic Realty Partners, estimates that between 30 and 40 percent of the four-story building’s residents will be NU students.

Both the height of the building and the 10 low-income units have been changed as a compromise with residents who have expressed concerns since the building was first proposed last summer. Originally it was conceived as an 11-story building but was reduced to nine stories in September.

Developers withdrew the proposal after receiving complaints and came back with a four-story version they introduced at the Jan. 14 council meeting. They also brought down the cost of the low-income units and added underground parking.

Ald. Arthur Newman (1st) said at a Planning and Development Committee meeting earlier that night that he thought the developer had worked well with the city and Evanston should endorse the low-income housing.

“I think it’s a bad precedent to turn this project down,” he said.

Also to be introduced at the meeting is the proposed head tax, spearheaded by the Evanston Fair Share Action Committee.

The $10 tax on employees would affect city employers of more than 1,000 people, which are NU, Evanston Hospital and St. Francis Hospital.

The committee proposed the tax last year, but it was tabled by the council without ever coming to a vote. NU administrators strenuously objected to the proposal, saying it would be an unfair burden on the university and might cause the university to move positions outside the city, which would reduce the added revenue employees bring in through food and sales taxes.

Members of the committee were disappointed with the council after the overwhelming approval of the Fair Share referendum in March 2000 that endorsed negotiating more money from the university, said Mimi Peterson, co-chairwoman of the committee.

The committee brought up the proposal again because of the continuing need to help solve Evanston’s ongoing budget problems, she said.

“We suggested this now as we did a year ago as a real source of new revenue,” Peterson said.