Northlight Theatre cancels plans to return to Evanston in proposed Sherman Avenue tower


Daily file photo by Alec Carroll

Saville Flowers on Sherman Avenue. Plans for Northlight Theatre to return to Evanston were scrapped by developers.

Ryan Wangman, City Editor

Developers behind the proposed 30+ story tower on Sherman Avenue that was to house Northlight Theatre are walking away from those plans, the group announced in a statement on Thursday.

The developers who co-authored the statement — Northlight Theatre, Farpoint Development and McLaurin Development — noted that the proposed tower, which would have been located in the 1700 block of Sherman Avenue, had become a source of contention. The developers said moving forward with the proposal would “perpetuate a divisive issue” for residents and community leaders in a time of uncertainty about the vision and future of downtown Evanston.

“This decision did not come lightly,” they said in the statement. “But it continues to be Northlight’s goal to be an integral part of the Evanston community. That includes listening to the concerns and issues raised by residents, businesses, and aldermen.”

Currently located in Skokie, Northlight Theatre had plans to relocate to Evanston within the proposed tower.

The proposed development received backlash from community members over its planned size and the fact that it would displace several local businesses located in the 1700 block of Sherman. The mixed-use development was planned to house multiple stages, a hotel and residential development, according to city documents.

A petition in opposition to the development that circulated earlier this year on had over 3,000 signatures as of Thursday evening.

At an Economic Development Committee meeting in January, Peter Demuth — a small business owner in the 1800 block of Sherman — said while he supported moving the theater back to Evanston, he opposed the construction of the building that would house Northlight.

“While we applaud bringing back the wonderful Northlight Theatre to Evanston, we object to doing so at the expense of several businesses, including the Alley Gallery, Saville Flowers and Bookends & Beginnings,” Demuth said. “They are an expression of our city’s uniqueness and its living history.”

Moving forward, developers said in their statement they would explore options for different locations the theater could possibly be built. The group added that a performance center in downtown Evanston would increase revenue for the city and bring patrons to dine and shop.

Developers said they hoped to engage in a conversation with the community about a potential relocation going forward.

“Our intent was, and remains, to create a cultural, social and economic hub in downtown Evanston, one that city leaders, residents and local organizations have sought for many years,” they said. “We will now seek other viable locations in Evanston and, perhaps, elsewhere.”

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