Evanston aldermen further affordable housing efforts


Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

Housing and grants division manager Sarah Flax. Flax says new development at 1900 Sherman Ave will exceed compliance with Evanston’s Inclusionary Housing Ordinance

Emma Edmund, Assistant City Editor

Aldermen discussed affordable housing plans during a Special City Council meeting Monday.

Aldermen approved a resolution for the city manager to acquire a vacant lot on Church Street for a potential affordable housing development site, introduced an ordinance amending the Demolition Tax and discussed a new mixed-income senior housing complex.

Aldermen approved a resolution that would allow city manager Wally Bobkiewicz to execute a Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure Agreement to acquire a vacant lot at 1805 Church St. The lot was identified as a development site for affordable or mixed-income housing.

Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) raised initial concerns about environmental contamination at the site. Sarah Flax, Evanston’s housing and grants division manager, said that the site had been remediated and gasoline-leaking tanks removed. She said further action is needed only if a developer builds into the ground.

“As with any kind of site that has contamination, there’s certain capping of certain things,” Flax said. “If somebody wanted to build down and build a basement or something like that, then they would have to dig up material and put in a barrier.”

Aldermen also introduced an ordinance to amend the City Code to increase the Demolition Tax, with the funds going toward affordable housing efforts. The ordinance would increase the demolition tax to $15,000 from $10,000 for a single-family detached residential structure and implement either a $15,000 or $5,000 per unit tax for each unit of a multi-family, single-family attached or two-family residential structure, whichever tax costs more.

Ald. Donald Wilson (4th) expressed his support for the tax.

“When we look at how we’re going to use the money down the road, I think we should proceed with this tax,” Wilson said. “That does provide us with a pool of money to potentially work with tenants who are being displaced.”

The aldermen also discussed plans for a new mixed-income senior residence at 1900 Sherman Ave.The Housing Authority of Cook County presented potential plans for the development. Richard Monocchio, the Executive Director of HACC, said that the property would be limited to residents aged 55 and over.

“The rubber is hitting the road with this building,” Monocchio said.

The presentation described units for three types of residents: those who can pay market rate rent, the “missing middle” – those who cannot afford market rate rent but who also do not receive an affordable housing subsidy – and low-to-moderate income residents.

The average potential monthly rent for a one-bedroom unit with an average of 700 square feet, would be $2,000 for market rate, $1,666 for the “missing middle” and $1,450 for low-to-moderate income residents, who would only be required to pay one-third of that price.

The presentation also mentioned that the development might jump to 15 floors, above the planned 11.

Mayor Steve Hagerty said that it was an honor for HACC to consider Evanston as a potential site.

“We feel very, very honored that the Housing Authority of Cook County is looking really, really seriously at our community,” Hagerty said, addressing HACC. “I know lots of the other mayors around here would die for the opportunity to have the kind of investment that you’re looking to put into our community.”

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