Kendall’s moving plans meet city interest

Elaine Helm

After learning that Evanston’s Kendall College plans to sell its current campus to finance a move to Chicago’s Near North Side, Northwestern administrators made it clear to Evanston officials they would not try to buy Kendall’s buildings without the city’s approval.

University and city officials learned of Kendall’s moving plans from a July 4 Chicago Tribune article. City Manager Roger Crum said he asked NU to make its intentions known in regard to Kendall’s 3.3-acre campus, which borders NU’s own to the northwest.

Eugene Sunshine, NU’s senior vice president for business and finance, said he wrote Crum a letter saying the university would go to the Evanston City Council first before talking to Kendall officials about the property.

“What we wanted to tell the city was that we had made no decision about whether we wanted to pursue it,” Sunshine said.

Sunshine declined to discuss any uses the university would consider for Kendall’s property, since its purchase is not currently being considered.

“Any land that we were potentially interested would be used for a number of uses,” he said. “We’re not going to put a manufacturing plant there because, obviously, that’s not what we do here.”

The only use currently permitted on Kendall’s campus, located between Lincoln and Colfax streets and Orrington and Sherman avenues, is university instruction and housing. The property also lies within the Northeast Evanston Historic District, which requires approval of alterations to buildings from the preservation commission.

“Without a rezone there aren’t too many possibilities (for reuse),” Crum said.

But Ald. Elizabeth Tisdahl (7th) has proposed that the city look into rezoning the property for single-family residential use.

Tisdahl could not be reached for comment. Any change in the area’s zoning would have to go through the city’s Planning Commission and Planning and Development Committee before final approval by the City Council, Crum said. The process could take several months to complete.

According to the Chicago Tribune article about Kendall’s proposed move, the 69-year-old college is negotiating a deal to move into a $37.5-million facility formerly occupied by Chicago-based Sara Lee Corporation.

Sara Lee closed the facility in 2001 after acquiring Earthgrains Co. and either laid off or relocated its 325 employees at that location to its bakery unit in St. Louis or its meat and food-service businesses in Cincinnati.

The 148,000-square-foot complex includes large kitchens, laboratories and office space, according to the Tribune article.

A spokesperson for Kendall College did not return calls for comment or confirmation of the institution’s plans. A Sara Lee spokeswoman also did not return calls.

Kendall College is best known for its culinary arts program but also awards degrees in criminal justice management, business and technology, early childhood education, hospitality management and interdisciplinary studies.

The school, which has about 600 students, offers four-year degrees as well as associate’s degrees and certificates.

It has two residence halls on campus that house about 150 students.

Kendall’s current president, Howard Tullman, is an NU alumnus and an adjunct professor at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management. He was appointed as Kendall’s eighth president in September 2002.