Thursday, February 20, 2014
Main & Chicago Avenue, Evanston IL - Update on a vacant lot
Feast your eyes on this ugly beast of a building! It is what has been proposed for the vacant lot on the southeast corner of Main Street and Chicago Avenue. Yes, it does match the other ugly beast buildings on the northwest and northeast corners of the intersection, but that doesn't make this a good idea. For those of us who live in south Evanston, this is another injury.
I see this vacant lot almost every day, and have come to appreciate the open space. There used to be an old two-story commercial building at that location called "the Main," but it was knocked down by some developers right before the financial crisis. I wrote about the loss of The Main when it happened. The vacant lot is sometimes used by dog owners now. It is good to have a vacant piece of land in the concrete valley. The new building will increase the grimness of the landscape. It also appears that the developers are not including enough parking for a multifamily development of this scale, so there will be more folks searching for street parking - already a scarce commodity in the neighborhood.
The new development will add a bunch of living units to the neighborhood. Congestion is already a problem and this building will make things worse. There will be first-floor retail space; the neighborhood is rotten with empty storefronts already. I foresee more national chains/fast food places taking up the slots (we have a Subway and a Starbucks at the corner already; I expect Dunkin Donuts, Panera Bread and the rest of the usual crowd of homogenized retailers.
I sound like a grumpy NIMBY. Certainly we need tax revenues in our town, but it isn't clear that this development will make a significant difference (especially in view of the Tax Increment Financing deal that the city government has awarded to this parcel). I know that this vacant lot needs to be filled and the location at the transit hub of Main and Chicago makes this a great place for a high rise. Nevertheless, the proposed structure will not be attractive and will increase the hassle of living in the area. Maybe I am wrong and it will be prettier in real life than it is in an artist's sketch. Maybe the congestion won't be any worse. But I think these outcomes are quite unlikely.
For anyone who is interested, here is a link to the presentation the developers made last fall to a community meeting.