Horizon’s Evanston high-rise plan rejected, again

Better, but still too tall

Horizon Realty Group’s Jeffrey Michael and a rendering of the project at 1621 Chicago Avenue (Legacy Evanston, Horizon Realty Group, Getty)
Horizon Realty Group’s Jeffrey Michael and a rendering of the project at 1621 Chicago Avenue (Legacy Evanston, Horizon Realty Group, Getty)

Evanston’s Land Use Commission nixed a revised plan for Horizon Realty Group’s 15-story, 140-unit residential building. The good news for the developer is that the project made progress in rallying support this time around.

The LUC voted 4-5 against the development at 1621 Chicago Ave., an improvement from the 0-7 decision for a larger, 18-story proposal in September 2022, reported Evanston Now. The decision for the project now goes to the City Council, which can reject or allow the LUC’s recommendation. 

One opponent, Rev. Grace Imathiu, referred to the idea as “blasphemous,” saying it would only add to traffic congestion, particularly in the alley between her church, 1st United Methodist, and the area in which the building would stand.

However, some commissioners believe the new high rise would aid Evanaton’s recovery from the pandemic, as more residents would fill the void of former office workers now working from home. Commissioner George Halik expressed hope that an attractive building such as the one proposed would help ignite the area’s popularity, saying there are too many empty storefronts and that Evanston’s streets are relatively lifeless. 

“I think this project needs to happen because Evanston needs it,” Halik said during the commision hearing. 

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Others still think the proposed structure is simply too tall. Kristine Westerberg noted that its height isn’t on par with downtown Evanston’s transitional zoning district. 

During the September hearing, Horizon COO Jeffrey Michael tried to convince the commissioners that the project would expedite the city’s issue of not enough affordable housing, as 18 units would have fallen under the umbrella of affordable housing. 

Michael also made the initial argument that the high rise would revitalize Evanston’s downtown and spark other luxury rental options. He added that the structure would bring in $1.6 million annually in property taxes. 

The potential cost of the project is still unclear, although Michael estimated $300 per square foot for the previous 18-story plan. 

-Quinn Donoghue

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Horizon Realty Group’s Jeffrey Michael and a rendering of the project at 1621 Chicago Avenue (Legacy Evanston, Horizon Realty Group, Getty)
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