City of Evanston, Property Owners Seek Community Input On Chicago Ave. Redevelopment Opportunities
3rd Ward Alderman Melissa A. Wynne and the owners of several properties in the Chicago Avenue corridor are seeking the community’s input on potential opportunities for redevelopment.
Recently, the owners of The Autobarn and Oscar Isberian Rugs shared their intentions of exploring opportunities for the redevelopment of their properties on the west side of Chicago Avenue, between Greenleaf and Lee Streets, as they reposition their businesses’ footprints on Chicago Avenue. The parcels are zoned a mix of C1a and C2, and directly abut the CTA railway embankment.
The property owners, in partnership with the City, are initiating a process to engage both the community and City staff on feedback for the site prior to the selection of a developer and determining a development project for the site. There are two upcoming initial opportunities to participate in the process:
- Property owners and Ald. Wynne will attend the Design and Project Review Committee (DAPR) on Wednesday, March 13 at 2:30 p.m. at the Morton Civic Center, Room 2404, to review site constraints related to the surrounding built environment, engineering, and the underlying zoning. There will be an opportunity for public comment at the meeting.
- Ald. Wynne will host a special town hall meeting on Thursday, April 4 at 7 p.m. to gather feedback from the community on any potential future projects on these sites. The meeting will be held at The Autobarn Fiat of Evanston, 1034 Chicago Ave.
A document summarizing feedback received at both meetings will be generated and utilized by the property owners to better guide and inform prospective developers of the constraints and opportunities for the site.
“All too often, the path for developers in Evanston is to present a project for community, staff and elected officials to react to,” said Ald. Wynne. “We are then in the position of figuring out how we will adapt and live with a new development. I would like to flip the process and provide feedback before there is even a development to respond to. The development community should understand how any project should fit into the community and Chicago Avenue prior to preparing plans and a development program."
The Autobarn and Oscar Isberian Rugs are working to determine how their businesses might be incorporated into a potential new project.
"Since 1928, Evanston has been home to Oscar Isberian Rugs, when my grandfather, Oscar Isberian, and his brother, Megerditch Isberian, built the store,” said owner Oscar Tatosian. “As third-generation business owners, we are planning for the future of the business. It is a change-or-die situation, and we need to improve the customer experience on Chicago Avenue and merchandising within the store. We have generations of clients and the rugs we have sold are in thousands of Evanston and North Shore homes. We want to continue the tradition established by my grandfather for future generations of our family businesses.”
The Autobarn will remain in Evanston and on Chicago Avenue. With the expansion of The Autobarn's Tech Center behind Target on Howard Street, the reconfiguration of the footprint on Chicago Avenue is possible.
"Chicago Avenue is a special street and I look forward to working with Alderman Wynne, City staff, and the community on its future," said Autobarn owner Richard Fisher. "The Autobarn has called Chicago Avenue home since 1992, and we look forward to calling it home for many decades to come. I appreciate that I am in a position to help engage Evanston in a conversation on the future of the street."
Fisher and Tatosian continued, "Chicago Avenue has uniquely long been known for rug shops and car dealerships and that is not going to change."
For more information, please call or text 847-448-4311. For convenience, residents may simply dial 3-1-1 in Evanston.