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33-story apartment tower rejected before reaching Evanston city council

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The proposed development at 601 Davis Street hoped to become Evanston’s tallest building

Solomon Cordwell Buenz

Vermilion Development’s plan to build a 33-story high-rise in downtown Evanston hit a serious—potentially insurmountable—obstacle on Monday night. Aldermen on the city’s Planning and Development Committee voted 6-1 to reject the project at 601 Davis Street, preventing it from reaching the full City Council for debate. Concerns over the proposal’s height, density, and limited on-site parking were cited as cause.

While the developer offered to make last-minute changes to the plan, the committee members said the project would need to restart the review and approval process from the beginning, according to Bill Smith of Evanston Now. The proposal had previously failed to receive a recommendation from both Evanston’s Plan Commission and Design and Project Review Committee.

Solomon Cordwell Buenz

The glassy 353-foot building from architect Solomon Cordwell Buenz was poised to become become the city’s tallest building, replacing a vacant lot and bank drive-through with 318 rental units, 176 parking spaces, and roughly 7,500 square feet of retail. The plan also included a provision to restore the landmarked University Building next door.

With the latest setback, it is unclear what Vermilion has planned for the prominent Evanston site. It’s possible the developer could return with a shorter design similar to the 27-story concept it first presented in late 2015. It’s also unclear what City Hall’s rejection could mean for an even taller, 37-story mixed-use tower in discussion two blocks away at 1700 Sherman Avenue.

Evanston has a growing number of other high-rise developments currently in the works. Active proposals include a 25-story residential tower at 1621 Chicago Avenue, a 14-story office building at 1720 Chicago Avenue, a 16-story transit-oriented rental development at 1450 Sherman, and a 17-story age-restricted project at 1727 Oak Avenue.