Condo construction begins after debate, demolition

Laura Olson

Construction on the condominium building at Emerson Street and Green Bay Road began Monday, almost a year after the Evanston City Council approved the project.

The Grand Bend at Green Bay building, 1228 Emerson St., will be shaped like an arc on the intersection’s southwest corner. The building will have 49 “single-family custom homes” on six floors, said Pam Albrecht, vice president of sales and marketing for Ferris Homes, the project’s developer.

“We took down four buildings and just finished the demolition,” she said.

Area residents spoke out against the project’s proposed height and density during the approval process. Grand Bend is the first Evanston site for Ferris Homes, a Northbrook company with developments in four other Chicago-area cities.

“The building will be made entirely of glass, steel and brick, making it very unique,” Albrecht said. “Each of the residences will feature floor-to-ceiling windows, as well.”

The developers changed the plan for a glass-and-metal building to include brick similar to that used in neighboring homes.

Albrecht said the building will offer spacious floor plans in 17 configurations. The smallest condominium will have 830 square feet of space; the largest residences will span more than 2,000 square feet, and some units will include 75-foot balconies.

Several designs for the site were proposed to the council’s Planning and Development Committee, whose members said the building was too large for its neighborhood.

Some area residents said the views from their windows would be blocked by the building.

Mary Trew, who lives just south of the Grand Bend site in a condominium building at 1834 Ridge Ave., said residents were upset with the original proposed size.

“We tried to curtail it, to get them to come up with a proposal that was a little less dense because that corner is so busy,” she said. “I’m concerned about it. It’s a dangerous corner, and there’s very little parking around here.”

Another building under construction, 1800 Ridge Ave., is causing congestion in the neighborhood, she said.

Despite the noise of the projects, something should be built on the corner of Emerson and Green Bay, neighbors said.

“Everyone was in agreement that the corner needed to be developed,” Trew said. “The concern was the sheer density of it.”

Ferris Homes contributed $25,000 to a low-income housing fund in exchange for exceeding zoning requirements. The company also did public projects, such as renovating the alley behind the site.

“We had some problems initially because we were asking for additional floors,” Albrecht said.

Negotiations for improving the alley between the development and the neighboring houses calmed tensions, he said.

Several condominiums already have been reserved, but the majority of the sales will begin in May, Albrecht said.

Potential customers are unable to explore the building but will be able to see photos that show the views from windows on any of the floors.

Residents will move into the building beginning in fall 2007, Albrecht said.

Reach Laura Olson at [email protected]