GW Properties eyes 25-story resi project in downtown Evanston

Considering teardown of mixed-use Church Street Plaza

GW Properties Eyes Teardown for 25-Story Evanston Resi Project
Mitch Goltz and Shai Wolkowicki of GW Properties with Church Street Plaza at 900-950 Church Street in Evanston (LinkedIn, GW Properties, ELS Architecture)

A Chicago developer is eyeing the possibility of a teardown to make room for a residential tower that would top the skyline of suburban Evanston as one of several ideas for the proposed redevelopment of Church Street Plaza.

Mitch Goltz, co-principal of GW Properties, said the firm also is considering the possibility of building residences atop the existing building, at 900-950 Church Street, among other options, Evanston RoundTable reported. 

GW Properties is considering redevelopment three years after buying the property and about a year after listing it for sale.

The first zoning analysis application submitted to Evanston officials calls for the demolition of part of the Church Street Plaza — home to retail and entertainment tenants, including an AMC theater — for a 25-story tower with 333 residential units. That would likely supplant the 22-floor Orrington Plaza as the tallest building in Evanston.

“This is a very preliminary and early exploration of some possibilities on the property given the complex underlying zoning,” Goltz told the publication. 

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Church Street Plaza has been touted as a highlight of development in downtown Evanston in recent years. It is located within the city’s “Research Park,” a zoning district developed 40 years ago in a bid to foster “applied research-oriented and advanced technology activities,” in proximity to Northwestern University, a leading research institution.

The hopes of spurring a tech center have faded, however. The city itself declared the concept “no longer realistic” in a downtown Evanston plan issued 15 years ago. That left the zoning designation’s continued existence as “problematic” for redevelopment, and the matter has apparently remained unaddressed.

GW Properties will ultimately have to navigate the zoning legacy as well as strike some balance with city officials as they devise a strategic plan, Envision Evanston 2045. 

That could work to the developers’ favor, since some city officials and their constituents have expressed support for residential conversions amid high vacancy rates for the office sector in the city.

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