Daily file photo by Evan Robinson-Johnson
The third Request For Proposal period for the Harley Clarke Mansion ends Friday, bringing the city into a new phase of consideration as it explores next steps for the property.
The proposal period, which began May 16, called for individuals, nonprofit organizations and for-profit organizations to suggest possible plans for the building. The Harley Clarke Mansion, 2603 Sheridan Rd., most recently housed the Evanston Art Center until the center vacated the building in 2015.
Since then, it has remained empty and become the subject of a contentious battle between different groups within the city. City Council denied multiple plans, including proposed demolition, renovation into a hotel and conversion into an environmental education center.
In November, the city held a community meeting where interested parties could present proposals to residents and receive feedback to make changes ahead of the February deadline. This was the first time the city held a community meeting for feedback in any of the three RFP periods.
Two groups — Evanston Community Lakehouse and Artists’ Book House — attended the November meeting and shared potential plans.
Now that the proposal period is over, the city will evaluate possible plans based on each group’s qualifications and the financial capabilities and organization within the proposal. The city will also consider each idea’s expected benefit to Evanston.
In the official RFP document, the city said it intends to award the lease to one entity, but is also willing to consider multiple groups. It can reject any proposals on a variety of counts, including a perceived lack of competence or unproven financial capacity.
According to the initial plan for the proposal period, City Council plans to consider any proposals submitted at its March 23 meeting, with an official decision on the future of Harley Clarke to come by May 1.
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