Church Might Expand With New Building

Nathan Adkisson

By Nathan AdkissonThe Daily Northwestern

The pensions and health benefits board of the national United Methodist Church is considering demolishing its building at 1200 Davis St., near Ridge Avenue, and building a larger one at the same location, city officials said.

If built, the new building would be 100,000 square feet spread over four stories. It also would have a new 230-space parking lot.

The board, which has its national headquarters in Evanston, has recently experienced significant growth, creating a need for new facilities.

“The old building doesn’t meet their needs size-wise,” said Carolyn Brzezinski, the assistant director of the Evanston City Council’s site plan and appearance review committee. The concept for the building was presented at the Nov. 1 committee meeting.

The project manager, David Graff, of MB Real Estate, declined to comment.

But there are no guarantees that the new building will be at the site of the old location, or even in Evanston at all.

“We have not determined whether or not we are going to build on 1200 Davis St.,” said Colette Nies, the managing director of communications for the board.

“In order for us to keep that option on the table, we have to go ahead and pursue the zoning application process in Evanston.”

The Nov. 1 concept presentation was the first of many committee appearances that must take place before construction can begin.

A concept review is for a proposal that has not yet received a zoning analysis. After the zoning analysis has been completed, a more detailed proposal will proceed to the mandatory preliminary site plan and appearance review before going before City Council for final approval.

The Nov. 1 preliminary review was a good way for the board to gauge the feasibility of the project, Brzezinski said.

“The concept evaluation is a very good program because it allows us people to come in early when things are still flexible,” she said.

The only obstacle that has arisen is a proposed driveway off Asbury Avenue for large automobiles. The road was not built for heavy vehicles, Brzezinski said.

The board has not said whether it has set a date for more reviews or if it has other locations in mind.

“We are also looking at other locations in the greater Chicagoland area, especially in the north and northwest area of the city and also downtown,” Nies said.

Reach Nathan Adkisson at [email protected]