Land swap may hold key to Link apartments expansion

Land swaps are not a common occurrence in Evanston, but developers are proposing one in the Emerson Street-Sherman Avenue area to move a major expansion project forward. 

Link 1.0 and Link 2.0 (right) in a rendering, looking northeast from the alley.

Focus Developers and CA Ventures, the developers, are proposing to construct a nine-story, 228-unit residential building just to the north and behind their existing Link apartment building on Emerson Street. 

The project site sits just west of Sherman Gardens, a long-established co-operative development on Sherman Avenue, between University Place and Emerson Street. 

The developers initially eyed building the expansion on a parcel that was for sale just south of their first Link building. That parcel contains a Byline Bank branch and housed a restaurant, Las Palmas, that was demolished about a year ago, said Justin Pelej, Executive Vice President of Focus. He was speaking at a virtual First Ward community meeting on Feb. 10. 

From impediment to benefit

The developers passed on tat site, however, Pelej said, “partially because the site’s relatively small, but also in knowing Sherman Gardens Co-Op and their needs, we felt that a sort of vertical development would be challenging. They [Sherman Gardens] have a nice courtyard there, and certainly any height that would be built in that corner would impede on that courtyard as far as shadows and light and so on.”

As time went on, however, and the site was not placed under contract by anyone, he said, “We started thinking a little bit more about what could go on the site that would be somewhat benign and actually a benefit.” 

A new parking garage-parking lot in exchange 

Land swap may hold key to Link apartments expansion

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