Council Committee Considers Tower Tonight

Tonight, Wed., May 7, at 6:30 pm, the Planning & Development Committee of the City Council will consider the proposed Fountain Square skyscraper "Tower" project (708 Church St.). The multi-use building, downscaled to 38 floors from the 49 stories originally requested, is the only item on the agenda.

Technically, what the Committee is considering is the recommendation of the Plan Commission (by 4-3 vote) to rezone the property to D3 (from the lower-height D2) and the approval of a "planned development" on the site.

The Planning and Development Committee is composed of all 9 members of the City Council, so whatever the Committee decides usually makes the Council's later vote a mere formality.

The meeting is in City Council chambers on the Civic Center, 2d fl. Citizen comment will be allowed and is likely.

CSNA's position has been that the City should not approve this project as proposed, for numerous reasons ranging from lack of public benefit that should accrue from such a large deviation from existing zoning, to the disruption of the ongoing downtown planning process. Numerous statements and articles are available on this website.


Tonight's Planning & Development Committee meeting may be the most important meeting of all concerning the skyscraper. The meeting is devoted to public comments, and according to one alderman, there may be a vote on the project tonight. So, anyone who is against the skyscraper and wants to have some impact should consider attending tonight, either to speak or just to fill the room. I think it promises to be an interesting meeting where we will see Evanston city politics at work, hopefully at its best.

Peter Sanchez

Like Paul Revere, Evanstonians have warned that a skyscraper is coming. While we thought that the greatest danger came from the developers, we recently learned that perhaps our biggest problem is a number of relentless, pro-skyscraper aldermen. At the special Planning and Development Committee meeting on May 7, those residents who have been working to save Evanston and stop the tower were confident that at least the issue of the skyscraper would finally be settled. The developers had stalled a decision for several weeks asking that they be allowed to redo the project. Two aldermen Bernstein and Wynne warned them that they could not just come back with a shorter building but nothing else. However, they came back with the same thing; so at the special meeting, we were confident that the developers' arrogance and stalling tactics would not be rewarded and that this horrendous project would be voted down by the council. Once the pubic testimony was over, Alderwoman Wynne did the right thing and made a motion, quickly seconded by Alderwoman Hansen, that the project be rejected. Immediately, Alderman Moran, a darling of the developers, ranted that the council needed to debate the issue and proceeded to lecture the residents in attendance. As each alderman spoke, however, it became clear that the skyscraper would loose and we all started to breath a collective sigh of relieve -- all the work and time had paid off. But then, Alderman Moran dropped an unexpected bomb. He made a motion, seconded by Alderwoman Rainey, to table Alderman Wynne's motion. After some confused discussion, requiring the city's legal advisor weigh in on council procedure, the decision was made that Alderman Moran's desperate motion had to be voted on first. Obviously, the pro-skyscraper alderman, knowing they would lose an honest vote, had planned this cowardly tactic. The vote was then quickly taken and the following aldermen -- Moran, Rainey, Wollin, Jean-Baptiste and, oddly enough, Bernstein -- voted to allow the developers some more time and thus to keep the skyscraper alive. Well, Revere, and those who followed him, got rid of the British and gave us the right to vote. We now have to continue to wait. But once the final vote is cast on this skyscraper, we should use that weapon to hold the aldermen who end up voting for the skyscraper accountable for their actions. In the meantime, we need to continue to fight to Stop the Skyscraper!