Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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City Council asks about prospective tenants for using Harley Clarke Mansion

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Daily file photo by Evan Robinson-Johnson
City Council moved to find new proposals for the Harley Clarke Mansion on Monday.

Evanston’s nearly century-old, currently unused Harley Clarke Mansion could become anything from a wedding venue to a wellness center, and Monday night City Council decided to push for a more decisive search to find a long-term use for the English Tudor property.

The mansion, located at 2603 Sheridan Road, has previously served as a fraternity property and the Evanston Art Center. However, City Council has long looked for a sustainable business and rehabilitation model for the property.

The city recently considered leasing the property to Artists Book House, an arts education group, chosen from a previous proposal request in 2019. However, when the long-term lease agreement with Artist Book House fell through because of funding issues last January, the discussion resurfaced. 

In September Evanston issued a new request for expressions of interest. City Planner Cade Sterling said the city received 10 responses, including three that were previously submitted in 2019.

Interested parties include a wedding venue, an event space, a boutique hotel, a coworking and tenant space, a museum, a wellness center, an educational space and a climate action and innovation center, he said.

“One of the really significant opportunities of the (request) is to be exploratory and to make adjustments based upon the responses that you receive,” Sterling said.

The city will accept proposals for around three months, Sterling said. The proposals will be evaluated by a committee of city staff from various departments, and the selected proposal will return to council for consideration and a potential award.

Several of these responses include commercial uses, which weren’t previously accepted, Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) said. However, since the Artist Book House’s withdrawal, councilmembers have reconsidered.

Ald. Devon Reid (8th) supported Revelle’s position that the city deviate from the conditions of the original 2019 request, saying that it “might be necessary for viability.”

In addition to interest in commercial uses for the Harley Clarke Mansion, Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) suggested that financing should be weighed more heavily in their decision.

While councilmembers discussed selling the property, most if not all were against the idea. Nieuwsma said that he would be willing to sell the mansion if they maintained “access,” a definition up for debate among councilmembers. 

Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) said public access means the property can be used by the community and reflects the outcome of a 2018 referendum, which rendered an 80% vote in support of the mansion’s preservation.

Kelly said she was not against commercial use, as long as the council’s choice incorporates community participation.

Ald. Thomas Suffredin (6th) said discussing specifics should happen after proposals are submitted. 

“I think we should be as conservative as possible,” Suffredin said. “There’s certainly a time for us to really get into the details. We want to invite as many proposals as possible.”

Email: [email protected]

Related Stories:

Council moves to request Harley Clarke renovation proposals 

Everything Evanston: City Council Rapid Recap talks Harley Clarke and funding plans 

City Council discusses miscommunication in Harley Clarke, Jens Jensen leasing process

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