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 approves Living Habitats contract to design ‘Civic Plaza’ downtown

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Daily File Photo by Shun Graves/The Daily Northwestern
A “Civic Plaza” was ranked third of top 20 Evanston Thrives priorities.

City Council approved a nearly $100,000 contract award with Living Habitats, a Chicago-based architectural firm, for the engagement, design and implementation of the Downtown Evanston “Civic Plaza” plan Monday night. The plan is part of the Evanston Thrives Retail District Action Plant. Other contracts were amended for the City’s Sidewalk and Streetlight Improvement Project. 

The implementation of a “Civic Plaza” was ranked third of top 20 Evanston Thrives priorities. Although the final design plans aren’t yet finalized, initial sketches of the plaza — which would be located in the area bounded by the Davis Street Metra, CTA lines and Church Street — include painted murals, raised benches and overhead lighting. 

Funds for the contract will be drawn from the remaining $3 million of the American Rescue Plan Act given for “economic development initiatives,” according to the request for proposal. 

“It’s not going to be a $6 million dollar Fountain Square where we’re digging and pouring in concrete, but what is it going to be?” Economic Development Committee Manager Paul Zalmezak said. “I wanted to leave that intentionally loose around the edges.”   

The approval was passed in a 5-2 vote, with Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) and Ald. Thomas Suffredin (6th) dissenting. 

Suffredin raised the concern for the sustainability of this project, but Zalmezak said that similar projects typically show a deterioration point of 3-5 years. 

“This is ARPA money, which won’t come back again, so when we get to that 3-5 year mark we don’t have a concrete plan for where that money will come from,” Suffredin said.

Living Habitat’s preliminary proposal to City Council cites an “uninviting” existing plaza, and seeks to transform it into a “Theater Gallery,” including interactive art installations and tiered seating. 

The Economic Development Committee will execute the formal contract at the upcoming June 26 meeting. 

A contract with Alliance Contractors Inc. was also approved for the Sidewalk and Streetlight Improvement Project. The project is a neighborhood infrastructure improvement program started in 2022 for West Evanston sidewalks.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @shreyasrin

 

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