There is a new neighbor in the southeast corner of Evanston: AMLI Evanston, a luxury apartment building at 737 Chicago Avenue. The completely smoke-free building, built to achieve LEED Silver Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, includes 214 rental units ranging from studios to three-bedrooms, plus 19 live/work ground floor apartments. The first tenant moved in this past April and already a third of the apartments are leased or occupied.
LEED is an acronym for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and Silver is one of four possible levels (the others are Certified, Gold and Platinum). There are six categories including water efficiency, indoor environment quality, energy and atmosphere and materials and resources. Each category is evaluated based on established criteria and points awarded for meeting or exceeding the standards. Silver Certification requires 50-59 points. The goal of achieving Silver Certification drove every decision for AMLI Evanston, such as how best to conserve water, filter air, recycle trash and more. Even the landscaping selected for the rooftop terrace garden is drought-resistant, all part of an effort to promote healthy living, sustainability and a truly green community.
According to Steve Ross, lead developer for AMLI Evanston, for the past five years he participated in or led meetings with Evanston residents, government officials and others to make certain the developers knew about, communicated with and listened to the viewpoints of all the various constituencies. These discussions affected aspects such as the height of the building (four floors of apartments plus retail on the ground floor), how it ‘fits’ in with the rest of the structures on Chicago Avenue and the addition of the open plaza on the corner of Kedzie and Chicago Avenues. The finished project is one of the largest private investments in this part of Illinois in recent years.
The upscale amenities include many that one expects of a luxury building: a gym appointed with flat screen televisions; a residents’ lounge with more televisions and a kitchen and bar area; free WiFi; a bicycle room; a business center with computers and machines for copying, scanning, faxing; a Pilates/yoga studio; and covered reserved parking with enough spaces for every resident (note, parking is an additional fee). But there are also some very cool amenities such as a private dog run and paw wash; electric car charging stations; a rooftop terrace with a fire pit, outdoor grills and multiple areas for lounging and conversation; and a one bedroom suite that residents can reserve and rent for $85 a night for out-of-town guests.
At the opening event I attended, AMLI prominently promoted the work of SAGE (Schools Are Gardening in Evanston), a non-profit organization that cultivates ‘health, learning and environmental stewardship through edible school gardens.’ The garden at nearby Lincoln Elementary School is bursting with all kinds of vegetable bounty, and similar gardens exist at 15 other Evanston schools.
SAGE was the perfect organization for AMLI Evanston to support and fully in synch with their environmentally aware, energy-efficient, healthy living philosophy. It was a generous gesture for a new neighbor. Welcome to the ‘hood!