Developer scraps plan for Emerson and Jackson projects after residents raise concerns


(Daily file photo by Noah Frick-Alofs)

Ald. Robin Rue Simmons (5th). Rue Simmons told residents there would no longer be a new development at Emerson Street and Jackson Street.

Andres Correa, Assistant City Editor

After hearing resident concerns, Domanus Development will no longer be pursuing a residential development at Emerson Street and Jackson Street in the 5th Ward. Instead, the company will begin planning another project in the ward, Ald. Robin Rue Simmons (5th) announced at a ward meeting Wednesday.

Around 20 people gathered at the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center with the intention of discussing the development in the ward, which was proposed last fall. However, when residents entered the meeting, Rue Simmons announced the developer would not be in attendance, and that they will no longer be pursuing the development project at Emerson and Jackson. Rue Simmons said the developer decided to pull out of the project after residents raised concerns of displacement and aesthetical issues.

“They heard us loud and clear,” Rue Simmons said. “They heard us when we said we want townhouses. We don’t want to displace our neighbors. We don’t want to change the culture and aesthetic of our neighborhoods. But we do want development.”

According to the developer’s website, the project would have included two five-story buildings with elevators, 44 luxury condominium units and special amenities including a rooftop deck, as well as underground and surface parking. However, Rue Simmons said Domanus Development never owned the property and they were only in negotiations for it. She said the current owner sent notices to residents, which resulted in people moving out of the building.

Jeffrey Masters, an Evanston resident, said many residents who lived at the Emerson and Jackson location were forced to move out of their homes.
“All the residents are out except for the yellow house on Jackson,” he said.

Now, she said the developer is looking for another property located on Emerson Street between North Ashland Avenue and North Darrow Avenue, which would better accommodate the scope of their project. This new property is set to be a combination of commercial and residential buildings.

To pursue the project, Rue Simmons said the developer would have to meet the minimum requirement for inclusionary housing under the city’s guidelines, which include no fee-in-lieu payments to substitute for affordable units, a mix of studio and three-bedroom apartments and high-end amenities.

The new version of the project will also go through major changes to fit the aesthetic of the ward; however, plans are still in early stages. Nevertheless, Rue Simmons said the new project would help with the city’s West Evanston Master Plan, which lays out strict rules and regulations for development within a designated area on Evanston’s west side.

According to the West Evanston Zoning Overlay, the location of parking facilities, building heights and entrances of locations are just a few of the guidelines developers are subject to when planning projects in this area. Given the strict guidelines, Rue Simmons said many developers look elsewhere in Evanston.

5th Ward resident Betty Ester was one of several residents who brought up concerns about bringing in developers including the public benefit of the new building, issues of affordable housing and residents who were displaced by the recent development.

“Right now, as everybody calls it, the West Evanston Master Plan… is what the neighbors want,” Ester said. “No, that’s what the city wants for zoning.”

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