Rental project at 831 Emerson St. tabled for further discussion


Zack Laurence/Daily Senior Staffer

Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) attends a City Council meeting. Rainey and other aldermen raised concerns about moving forward with deliberations about a proposed building project at 831 Emerson St., and Council ultimately decided to hold off on discussion until the Feb. 22 Planning and Development Committee meeting.

Elena Sucharetza, Assistant City Editor

A proposed apartment rental project at 831 Emerson St. was tabled to stay in the Planning and Development Committee on Monday night

The project, which received unanimous approval in the Design and Project Review Committee in early November, was postponed for further discussion until Feb. 22 due to a request from Ald. Judy Fiske (1st) to discuss the project further with developers. She said developers did not directly request to have the meeting postponed, but an email from their attorneys communicated the desire for developers to hold a neighborhood meeting about the rental project to clarify issues for residents.

“It makes more sense to postpone discussion where we know we will keep the project in committee rather than vote on a project that could be changed,” Fiske told The Daily. “This way there is clarification and everybody knows what’s going on with the project.”

The proposed project at 831 Emerson St. is intended to be a large-scale private apartment complex geared toward Northwestern students. Situated near Sherman Avenue and Emerson Street, the project would break from some Evanston zoning requirements, including building height and the number of units in the project. Although zoning requirements allow a building to be at most 97 feet high with 169 units, developers of the Emerson project proposed a 126-foot building with around 260 units.

Multiple residents expressed frustration about the project, citing potential issues such as noise, increased traffic and whether the building was essential to the community’s development.

Evanston resident Elizabeth Luby said the concept of a “private dormitory” will be disruptive to residents and will fail because of what she said she perceived as a lack of interest in developer-controlled dormitories. Regulation of the units would also be an issue due to private control of the property instead of University control, she said.

“This is not an NU type thing,” Luby said. “I got a statement that the head of residential housing at NU said that their 10-year plan for building residences on campus has nothing to do with this project.”

Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) said she was concerned about the project’s relationship to the inclusionary housing ordinance law that took effect Jan. 1. She said inclusionary housing fees that are collected in lieu of physical units being built rely on the number of units in a building. This leads to bigger, more spacious units — like the proposed 831 Emerson St. apartments — bringing in less money than a building with many smaller units, she said.

“The ordinance creates situations where if a space is divvied up differently to include better quality units, it would pay less,” she said.

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