Evanston City Council gives exception for proposed hotel on Chicago Avenue


Nathan Richards/Daily Senior Staffer

An elm tree at 1515 Chicago Ave. is shown. Aldermen approved a developer’s plan to remove the tree in order to build a hotel on the site.

Sophia Bollag, City Editor

Aldermen granted an exception of a city ordinance Monday night to a developer building a hotel on Chicago Avenue, despite residents’ concerns voiced at the City Council meeting. 

The decision will allow the developer to cut down an elm tree at the back of the property at 1515 Chicago Ave. and extend the parking lot farther into the rear alley than the city has allowed in the past.

A city ordinance requiring 5-foot parking setbacks would normally have prevented the developer from removing the tree or extending into the alley.

Aldermen voted to approve the measure unanimously. 

“I don’t want to minimize the loss of the tree,” Ald. Donald Wilson (4th) said during the meeting. “But if you keep pushing, you’re going to get to the point where the development is not going to work … and then you have to be careful what you wish for.”

After rejecting two other development proposals for the lot, Wilson and other aldermen said they worried that if the developer chose not to build the hotel, the city might be unable to find another developer as willing to alter its plans to accommodate concerns of residents and city officials.

The extended-stay hotel will be eight stories tall and have 114 rooms and 35 parking spots, according to the proposal presented to the city’s Plan Commission on March 12. It will occupy the same block as Giordano’s.

Ald. Judy Fiske (1st) said she was voting to approve the measure despite reservations about removing the tree and restricting traffic flow through the alley.

“These alleys right next to business districts are pretty much used as public thoroughfares,” she said. “But … this is going to pass tonight, and it is going to be better than any (other proposal) we have seen.”

Several residents spoke out during citizen comment urging the council not to approve the exception to the ordinance. Christine Westford, the president of the condominium association at 525 Grove St., said she and other residents in that area were mostly supportive of the project but did not think City Council should allow the developer to cut down the tree.

“We have one serious concern,” she said. “That’s the request for relief from the 5-foot parking setbacks at all the lot lines.”

The resolution the aldermen approved requires the builder to plant another tree to replace the elm that will be removed.

Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) spoke in support of the resolution during the meeting.

“This is a needed addition to our downtown,” she said. “It’s probably one of the most compliant planned developments that I’ve seen in a long time.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @SophiaBollag