NU will not renew Roycemore lease

Nathalie Tadena

Roycemore School, a private school adjacent to Northwestern’s campus, will have a new home by 2014.

The school, 640 Lincoln St., was built in 1915 on land owned and leased by NU. The 99-year lease ends in June 2014 and will not be extended by NU to accommodate the university’s need for extra space.

Although the school building is currently owned by Roycemore, NU will gain ownership in 2014. Located in Evanston’s historic district, the school is nationally registered as a historic building and is protected by certain zoning restrictions.

“We have made no decisions as a university about what we would do with the land or the building,” said Eugene Sunshine, NU’s vice president for business and finance. “Whatever we would do with the space will be consistent with city zoning regulations.”

Roycemore has about 250 students and is located close to North Campus. The school often uses NU’s Long Field for athletic purposes, Sunshine said.

Different uses for the building have been discussed, but nothing has been finalized, said University President Henry Bienen. The building “would not be suitable for a residence hall” but may be used for administrative or childcare purposes, he said.

“The more that the university can take administrative functions off the central campus, the better it will be,” Bienen said.

The university also needs more flexible space to temporarily house offices and departments as the campus undergoes various construction projects, he said. The Radio-TV-Film department offices currently use space owned by NU at 1800 Sherman Ave. while Annie May Swift Hall is being renovated, and the history department will later move to 1800 Sherman Ave. when Harris Hall closes for construction next year.

NU administrators anticipated a need for additional space and notified those at Roycemore several years ago their intentions not to extend the lease, Sunshine said.

“Given how we’ve grown and added more academic buildings, things are getting tight,” he said.

Roycemore has also “seen and felt a need for additional space,” said Joseph Becker, the school’s headmaster.

The school’s gymnasium was originally built for young women to practice posture walking, and does not provide enough space for sports like volleyball. There are also space restrictions on street parking and technology in the classroom, he said.

The school has been looking for a new location on and off for the past 10 years, he said.

“We certainly have been looking for a new location and are hopeful about a number of leads,” he said.

Although there are no finalized plans, Becker said he would prefer to keep the school in Evanston.

“We have been a part of the Evanston community for more than nine decades and we would like to stay here,” he said.

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