City council backs 1900 Sherman senior citizen skyscraper, with market-priced apartments to help pay for the construction of 51 affordable units

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Anyone who pairs senior residential buildings with functional buildings dressed in institutionally drab tones may be surprised by the 16-story, 152-unit skyscraper heading towards the outskirts of downtown Evanston.

Along the way is “a magnificent, attractive and architecturally significant building,” predicted Richard Monocchio, executive director of the Housing Authority of Cook County (HACC), of the senior citizen building that the authority proposed for 1900 Sherman. Ave.

Evanston City Council members voted 7-0 in favor of the planned development at their December 13 meeting, granting the developer’s request for substantial allowances for building height, floor space ratio and parking .

HACC officials have made substantial changes to the proposal, first introduced in May 2019.

The skyscraper is to rise just south of another HACC senior citizen building at 1900 Sherman Ave., the 11-story, 100-unit Jane R. Perlman Apartments.

During hearings on the proposal, residents living near the site criticized the zoning allowances developers receive as well as the reduction in the number of affordable units from what HACC officials originally proposed.

A render from the Housing Authority of Cook County shows the 16-story, 152-unit building at 1900 Sherman Avenue, which received Evanston City Council approval on December 13 (HACC rendering)

HACC’s original proposal targeted three income groups: people with incomes equal to or less than 80% of the area’s median income (MAI) or less, referred to as “low-mod”; those with between 80% and 120% AMI, sometimes referred to as a “missing link”; and people with incomes above 120% AMI, referred to as the “market rate” category.

In total, officials were looking at a breakdown of 36 units at the market rate, 60 in the mid-group, and 24 low-mod units. In November of last year, HACC officials received board approval for a different setup, with nearly 100 units now at market rate.

Officials said the change was necessary for the project to be financially feasible.
In the December 13 meeting, Monocchio, speaking over the video connection, said market-priced units are essential to supporting the affordable housing the project will provide – as well as the aesthetics of the building, “I think more importantly, it’s okay to have 51 affordable apartments out of 152, ”he told council members.

HACC’s proposal calls for providing 34 affordable on-site units (16 studio / convertible units, 18 one-bedroom units but zero two-bedroom units) affordable to households at 50% of the MAI, exceeding the requirement of the city’s Inclusion Housing Ordinance (IHO) according to which 20% of the lots offered 60% of AMI for development on public funding. In addition, the applicant has committed to supply 17 units at 80-120% of the MAI, exceeding the 20% of the city’s IHO requirement.

Tenants in the lower income group will pay rent as low as $ 300 per month in the new building, he said. Residents of the other 17 units will pay rents at half of market rent or less, he said.

“I want to remind people that we are doing this without any government development grants,” he said. “So what we’re doing is building a building that has tenants at market prices, that’s true. But these tenants at the market rate mainly pay for the construction of the 51. “

“It’s revolutionary,” he said.

Concerns remain

But some residents, speaking earlier during the public comment portion of the meeting, highlighted some of what they saw as the project’s shortcomings, including a reduced number of on-site parking.

The HAAC requested a waiver of the required number of underground parking spaces of 37 to 25. A speaker at the previous council meeting, Claire Waistell, noted that the new proposal would only provide 25 spaces for a new one. 152-unit building. She said the county then hopes to fill the rest of the city’s 62 required spaces by arranging parking in a nearby building.

Speaking during public comments at the December 13 meeting, Cecile McHugh, another resident who lives near the site, noted that the new on-site parking was below what the HAAC would include in its original plan. of 168 units.

“The new on-site plan is to provide three new net on-site parking spaces for 152 new units, thus planning to provide one new net on-site parking space for every 50 units in a senior citizen residence,” he said. she observed.

HAAC officials said they were in talks with nearby developments, E2 and Link, to provide additional parking at these sites. McHugh replied that “somehow the ability of older people to walk safely two blocks from E2 is assumed, although it does require crossing an alley, a lane of access used by garbage trucks’ to get to parking areas.

“It can be especially dangerous in dark, autumnal weather for the elderly,” she said.

During the council discussion, council member Devon Reid, 8th arrondissement, who supports the project, expressed concern.

“I’m not a big fan of government parking minimums in general,” he said, “but this is particularly a building for the elderly and disabled and I would just love to see more of these units. parking kept on site. “

In a previous planning and development meeting, William James, consultant on the project, said less basement space was recommended after engineers examined the foundation for the Perlman building. As a result of their findings, he said, the design of the underground parking lot had to be reconfigured, which reduced the number of parking spaces that could be provided on-site. An alternative would have been to build the garage another level lower, which would have come at an “astronomical cost which could severely impact the project and make it unachievable,” he said.

Responding to the question at the December 13 meeting, Monocchio told council members, “The last thing I wanted to do was cut back on on-site parking, the last thing.

“Of course, I would like to have the underground car park, more spaces, but the point is that it does not work.


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