Summer in Evanston: Completion of Albion tower expected by early 2020, Harley Clarke saga continues


(Source: Albion Residential) An artist rendering of the proposed 16-story building on Sherman Avenue.

Kristina Karisch, City Editor

City officials and members of Albion Residential broke ground on a controversial Sherman Avenue apartment complex in late August, kicking off a construction process for a new high rise tower in downtown Evanston.

Andrew Yule, Albion’s vice president of development, told The Daily in August he expects the building to be complete by late 2019 or early 2020. The tower will feature 273 residential units, 6,800 square feet of commercial space and 200 parking spots.

Mayor Steve Hagerty, who attended the groundbreaking ceremony, said his family had fond memories at Tommy Nevin’s Pub and Prairie Moon, two restaurants which were demolished to build the new tower. He said that the building will bring more people to the city who will engage with local businesses and help grow the “vitality of Evanston.”

Jason Koehn (Kellogg ’03), president of Albion Residential, said the development involved compromise for everyone involved, but once construction is complete “most people will see what’s going on here. The future is really what we’re talking about.”

Construction of the building was approved by City Council in November 2017, following months of deliberation between residents and city officials. The decision marked a major defeat for community members who believe the project does not meet affordable housing needs and will increase gentrification.

At the November meeting, Ald. Donald Wilson (4th) said the only way to stabilize housing prices in Evanston is to increase supply of housing stock.

“We’ve got somebody who’s willing to invest a large amount of money in the community,” Wilson said. “They’re willing to put some (affordable housing) units in. This is not the terrible, terrible thing that some people are making it out to be.”

Harley Clarke demolition to be addressed on November ballot

Following City Council’s approval of the demolition of Harley Clarke mansion in July, residents moved to include a citizen advisory referendum on the November ballot. The results will not bind aldermen to a decision.

According to city documents, the referendum asks if the city should “protect from demolition and preserve the landmark Harley Clark building and gardens next to Lighthouse Beach,” and keep it as public property at “minimal or no cost to taxpayers.”

The mansion, which sits along the lakefront in north Evanston, has been vacant since 2015 when the Evanston Art Center moved out of the facility. Since then, residents and city officials have been discussing possible renovation and restructuring of the facility, as well as options for demolition.

Aldermen approved a plan from a group of private donors under the name of Evanston Lighthouse Dunes, who proposed a self-funded demolition of the Harley Clarke mansion in favor of green space during a May City Council meeting. Aldermen passed a resolution in June for city staff to begin talks with the group about demolition. The group plans to fund the demolition of the building entirely, leaving no cost to the city, and provide an additional $100,000 for landscaping costs once a design of the space is approved.

City staff will now move forward with a memorandum of understanding with Evanston Lighthouse Dunes to cover the demolition of the mansion, according to city documents. The group will also have to file a certificate of appropriateness with the Evanston Preservation Commission.

The commission will then decide to approve or deny the proposal.

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Twitter: @kristinakarisch