Ten-story office building may replace former Burger King


Photo by Jacob Wendler

The former Burger King on the corner of Orrington Avenue and Clark Street. Evanston’s Land Use Commission met Wednesday to discuss building a ten-story office building in its place.

Jacob Wendler, Reporter

Evanston’s Land Use Commission met remotely Wednesday night to discuss the repurposing of land at the intersection of Orrington Avenue and Clark Street, where the city’s former Burger King stood. After more than two hours of deliberation, the commission recommended City Council approve a zoning change and the planned development. 

Trammell Crow Chicago Development, a multi-billion dollar commercial real estate development company, requested the zoning amendment and a permit to develop a 10-story mixed-use building. This would be Trammell Crow’s second Evanston development, following the completion of a senior community building last June.

The space currently holds a three-story apartment complex at 1732-34 Orrington Ave. and a shuttered Burger King franchise at 1740 Orrington Ave., which closed in December 2020 after more than 40 years of service.

If approved, the new building would feature limited below-ground parking, retail space on the ground floor, and over 100,000 square feet of office and laboratory space, according to the memo. The top floor of the building would also feature a lounge, a fitness center with lockers and showers and a rooftop balcony, in addition to a partial 11th-floor utility penthouse.

For construction to take place, the zoning district of the site would have to be amended from a D2 Downtown Retail Core District to D3 Downtown Core Development District, which would allow for a mix of retail, office and residential uses. 

John Carlson, principal of Trammell Crow Company’s Midwest Business Unit, said the development aims to attract STEM graduates of top-tier universities like Northwestern. According to Carlson, Evanston lacks high-quality office space for groundbreaking research and development. 

For the proposal to move forward, the Planning and Development Committee must recommend approval to City Council, which is then expected to make a final determination in March.

Trammell Crow has offered to contribute more than $500,000 in public benefits to address the impact of the development on the Evanston community. This includes contributions to Evanston’s affordable housing fund and public transit improvement fund, installation of a Divvy bike station and relocation of above-grade utility lines to underground space beneath the nearby public alley.

The reception to the proposal from both the commission and the general public was generally positive. But some residents expressed concern about the height of the building and the impact on local parking and traffic, among other effects of the project. 

Trammell Crow has been working its proposal through the city bureaucracy for several months, a process that has included a public meeting in September and a Design and Project Review Committee meeting this month.

The DAPR recommended approval to the Land Use Commission subject to certain conditions, including a provision that the applicant be required to compensate the city in lieu of real estate taxes, should the property come under NU’s jurisdiction in the future. The Land Use Commission agreed to accept the DAPR’s conditions with some tweaks, including an addition to its recommendation for a waste analysis to include any hazardous materials used in the building’s laboratory spaces.

If approved, Carlson said that Trammell Crow aims to break ground in late 2022, with construction expected to take about 18 months.

“I think the presentation was one of the most comprehensive that we’ve seen, and the graphics were great,” said Matt Rodgers, chair of the Land Use Commission. “Evanston should be excited to get this project.”

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