Bernstein to spend night of election fighting condo

Scott Gordon

Ald. Steven Bernstein (4th) said he and other Fourth Ward residents will spend most of election night — tonight — urging the city to uphold height limitations on a proposed condo building in his ward.

Mark Titus of New Orleans-based Diamond Street Development wants the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals to make an exception to a city law limiting to 50 feet the height of the five-story condo he wants to build at 917 Greenleaf St.

He and other Fourth Ward residents will attend the meeting to ask the board to deny Titus’ request, Bernstein said.

Under current city law, the board could approve Titus’ request without asking Evanston City Council to vote on it.

A 59-foot building would have room for more parking spaces than a 50-foot one and would allow for five three-bedroom rather than two-bedroom condos, Titus said.

Even within current height limits, Bernstein said, the condo wouldn’t look right next to the other buildings on the block. The empty lot is located between two three-story apartment buildings.

"(Titus) came to me two years ago and he said, ‘What do you think’? I said, ‘I hate it, but you can build it,’" Bernstein said.

Titus said he will fly to Evanston from New Orleans to attend the board’s meeting tonight. He said he would try to "make the building look as if it’s always been there."

After he asked the city for the zoning change, he said, he also found that the soil at the site is too soft to hold the kind of foundation needed to keep the building at or below 50 feet.

Titus, who lives in New Orleans and Rogers Park, has built one other condo in Evanston, at 2515 Prairie Ave.

Bernstein, an eight-year incumbent, has not campaigned in this election but still he said he thinks he will defeat write-in candidate Ryan Garton.

The board meets the first and third Tuesday of each month and mostly regulates home building and renovations.

— Scott Gordon