Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Preservation effort not halting Civic Center plans

The Evanston City Council could approve a plan for the Evanston Civic Center and its replacement this spring, a consultant for the Civic Center Committee said Wednesday.

“We’re now at the point where we need to start positioning ourselves to make a final decision,” said Martin Stern, a consultant for real estate company U.S. Equities Realty, LLC

The committee unanimously voted in January to stop rehabilitation of the deteriorating Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave., and to sell the property to create revenue for a new center. Wednesday the aldermen set up a tentative schedule for monthly committee meetings – at 7 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month – to speed up the process.

The city government building will hit its 100th birthday in 2009 and the Friends of the Civic Center preservation group submitted a nomination to grant the property landmark status. The Evanston Preservation Commission recommended Sept. 13 that the City Council grant the building this designation.

If the Civic Center achieves landmark status it would restrict renovations and make selling the building more difficult, Ald. Lionel Jean-Baptiste (2nd) said before the Wednesday meeting. If the city cannot sell the center, the council may need to turn to taxpayers to pay for a new seat of government, Ald. Ann Rainey (8th) said.

In upcoming Civic Center Committee meetings, aldermen will discuss the merit of various locations and specifications for a new center, such as size and organization. Stern estimated a programming consultant will cost the city $18,000 to $25,000.

About 10 residents attended Wednesday’s meeting. Two questioned the consultant-hiring process. They said U.S. Equities should not manage any aspect of the project until company members signed paperwork declaring that the organization will not bid on any part of the project.

“There could be a conflict of interests,” said John Kennedy, founder of Friends of the Civic Center. “Other municipalities have gotten in trouble along that line.”

Ald. Steven Bernstein (4th) said aldermen have the integrity to reject bids from their consulting company and Jean-Baptiste suggested residents take concerns to the city’s legal consultant.

“U.S. Equities will not be a bidder on this site if the council chooses to sell it,” Stern said. “We will have nothing to do with it.”

Kennedy also said the committee should wait to proceed with plans for the Civic Center until after an ad hoc committee issues its own report sometime within the next few weeks.

The ad hoc committee report will include alternate proposals to preserve the Civic Center.

Matthew Lerzak, who lives at 1217 Leonard Place, said the council needs to consider costs other than dollars.

“I just moved here a year ago,” he said. “I moved into a nice, quiet neighborhood. Now they’re talking about building maybe 200 condo units.”

Reach Elizabeth Gibson at [email protected].

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Preservation effort not halting Civic Center plans