Recently, several parcels of land owned by the City of Evanston have been for sale. One was the old Recycling Center on Oakton, which is moving toward becoming a climbing wall facility. Another is the library parking lot, where a controversial proposal to build a large office building was being considered and was recently declined by the City Council.
While not every parcel is appropriate for affordable housing, Joining Forces feels that any piece of City-owned property should be rigorously evaluated as a site for affordable housing before any RFP is issued and that all developers should be encouraged to propose buildings that include affordable residential units. We would like to see developers be invited to look beyond current zoning restrictions--if they include affordable units in their proposals--in order to promote development of affordable units in traditional as well as mixed-use and mixed-income buildings.
Additionally, we would like to see the Affordable Housing Plan Steering Committee include provisions for City-owned property in the Affordable Housing Plan that it is drafting. Now is the time to look at the available land in the City and determine where and how as much of it as possible can be used to achieve the City's goals, in particular, the goal related to affordable housing. The plan should also call for an ongoing policy that requires newly available City-owned land to be immediately considered for use as affordable housing as it becomes available.
Chicago is in the process of building 4 new libraries that have senior housing included in the facilities. This is the kind of creativity and innovation that we need to seek from developers of all kinds of building if we are to meet the need in Evanston.