New barbeque restaurant, residential building advances past Zoning Board of Appeals


Christopher Vazquez/Daily Senior Staffer

Mary Beth Berns, chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals, speaks at the board’s Tuesday meeting. Members voted to approve Falcon Eddy’s Barbecue and Highlands on Central.

Christopher Vazquez, Video Editor

The Evanston Zoning Board of Appeals voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend that aldermen approve the opening of a new barbecue restaurant and the development of a multi-family residence.

Real estate management company Schermerhorn & Co. president Daniel Schermerhorn received approval from the board to build a 12-unit apartment building, to be named Highlands on Central — at 3233-3249 Central St. — after agreeing to make six first-floor units accessible according to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The vote on the development came after the board requested that Schermerhorn include an affordable housing unit to comply with the city’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance, which specifies that a building of 10 or more units must have 10 percent of its units’ rent based on a percentage of occupants’ income.

Mary Beth Berns, chair of the Zoning Board of Appeals, said Schermerhorn would have had to charge $800 a month for an affordable unit in the building, but was unwilling to charge less than $2,500.

Berns said she made a trade-off with the developer to meet the ordinance by providing ADA-accessible housing in lieu of an affordable unit. Berns and Schermerhorn had a heated exchange during the meeting over whether the building would include ADA accessible or adaptable units, the latter of which occupants would have to pay to adjust to make handicapped accessible.

“I took a broader view of what inclusionary meant to … people with disabilities,” Berns said. “By getting them to agree to make all of the units on the first floor handicapped accessible, they were broadening the scope of what they were going to provide for Evanston residents.”

The board also voted to recommend to City Council that Bat 17 co-owner Jim Pomerantz receive approval to open a new Texas-style barbecue restaurant in downtown Evanston. The restaurant, Falcon Eddy’s, is set to be located at 825 Church St., the previous location of the southern-themed restaurant Dixie Kitchen and Bait Shop.

Pomerantz said he has been looking for a place to have “a real Texas dry rub kind of menu,” and the Dixie restaurant vacating its location around the corner from Bat 17 provided a prime opportunity.

He added that customers will place their orders at a counter, and the restaurant will not include a bar or sell liquor, but will carry “cool beers from Texas and out west.”

Zoning Board of Appeals member Violetta Cullen said the restaurant would provide a fresh fast-food option to the neighborhood.

“This (project) is gonna be one of the first of its type,” she said. “Hopefully it’ll be a better use for the space and stay a little longer.”

Pomerantz also said the new restaurant would hire 10 to 12 people and seat 46 to 48 customers.

Berns, the board chair, said by filling the currently vacant storefront, the new restaurant would increase the neighborhood’s real estate value and economic activity.

“An empty storefront does diminish the value of the property,” she said, “so by filling that storefront we are certainly re-increasing the value of the property in the neighborhood and creating a more vibrant downtown with more people who can come and spend their money.”

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