Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


Advertisement
Email Newsletter

Sign up to receive our email newsletter in your inbox.



Advertisement

Advertisement

Height limitations stunt high-rise growth downtown

Days after Evanston City Council decided to place stricterbuilding-height limitations on properties at the intersection ofMain Street and Chicago Avenue, local developers are saying thechange could mean smaller profits for future developers.

Aldermen decided to rezone the intersection after neighborsexpressed worries that the previous zoning designation, whichallowed building heights to reach up to 125 feet, was excessive.The new limitations cap the height of buildings at 67 feet.

Developer Robert Matthews, who owns property at theintersection, said the new zoning change could decrease the valueof his land.

“If suddenly you can’t build what you thought you could, it’llimpact land values,” said Matthews, president of MatthewsDevelopment Corp.

Matthews’ company is developing a seven-story condominiumbuilding on the northwest corner of the intersection. The buildingwill include 77 condominium units, parking and retail space. Thedevelopers, however, had to negotiate with the city before movingahead with the project — scheduled for completion in April2005.

“We made an agreement with them that they would not go over 67feet in their original project,” said Ald. Melissa Wynne (3rd),whose ward includes the intersection.

The city also required Matthews’ company to build a widersidewalk and set the building farther back from the street.

Although Matthews said he was concerned about property valuesdeclining, he said he does not feel the zoning change will determany future land buyers and developers from the area.

“It’s still a very prime intersection and I think developerswill find a way for something to work on it,” he said.

Evanston-based developing firm Main and Chicago, LLC, which ownsproperty on the southeast corner of the intersection, demolishedtownhomes on the block more than three years ago to prepare for anew development. The company’s original proposal was for a 12-storycondominium complex with parking that would have reached themaximum allowance of 125 feet, but Ald. Steven Bernstein (4th) saidthe developer has not taken any further action on the project sincethat time.

The city considered rezoning the property in 2000, but did notbecause the company said it had upcoming plans for its land in thearea. The city could not legally rezone the property if developersshowed they had invested a substantial amount of time and moneyinto the property.

Bernstein said because Main and Chicago, LLC has not taken anyfurther action, the city was entitled to change the zoning of thearea.

City Council placed a ban on new building projects at theintersection last October, prompting Main and Chicago, LLC to filea lawsuit against the city objecting to the moratorium. City lawyerJack Siegel, however, said the ultimate zoning decision lies withCity Council.

“We say we had a right to impose a moratorium,” Siegel said. “Wehave a right to zone what we want when we want.”

The lawsuit remains active, but Siegel said he hasn’t heard backfrom the developer since the city filed its response.

Officials from Main and Chicago, LLC, did not return repeatedphone calls earlier this week.

City Manager Roger Crum said the moratorium was passed to givethe council time to work out details of the zoning change, but hesaid he does not know the current status of the building ban nowthat council has rezoned the intersection.

Steve Mullins, who owns land on the northwest corner of theintersection, said he would be upset if he were the owner of Mainand Chicago, LLC’s property.

“I would think the owner of the southeast corner would beupset,” Mullins said. “It reduces the value of the property. …Any time your property is devalued, any developer would beupset.”

Wynne, however, said she doesn’t think the rezoning will hurtdevelopers dramatically.

“You can have a lot of development with 67 feet and make a lotof money,” Wynne said. “I think there’s still room for a very gooddevelopment there, and I think someone will eventually put abuilding up there.”

More to Discover
Activate Search
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Height limitations stunt high-rise growth downtown