Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Evanston skyscraper controversy

The new skyscraper proposed for downtown Evanston has created a lot of controversy. Here are several local articles from recent weeks: 1, 2, 3, 4.

The proposal has spawned a protest movement and been noticed in the media across the country (1, 2).

I have mixed feelings about the proposal. The design is much more attractive than most of the recent additions to Evanston's skyline. It continues the trend towards transit-oriented development in Evanston. However, I'm not so crazy about the fact that it would destroy an older low-rise building that adds a lot of character to Church Street and houses some long-established independent businesses and small offices, which would likely find the rents much too pricey when the new building is finished.

Much of the appeal of downtown Evanston is in the mix of businesses and architecture that are unique to it. Would it be improved by a new influx of franchise retailers and restaurants, replacing the independents who could no longer afford the space? Sherman and Church are already becoming glutted with a mall-like mix of franchises. The area around Fountain Square already suffers from a wind tunnel effect, which has increased with the addition of more tall buildings, making walking more of a challenge on windy days.

We'll see if this development is actually built. The rival proposal for the same location is DOA. Stay tuned...

No comments: