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Aldermen back $1.5M roof job

Evanston’s Civic Center Committee voted Wednesday night to recommend spending $1.5 million to replace the building’s deteriorated slate roof with asphalt shingles.

The panel rejected the idea of using slate for the new roof after a consulting firm, McGuire Igleski & Associates of Evanston, concluded slate would cost more.

The consultants estimated the initial cost of a slate roof at $2.1 million. The slate roof could last 75 years, compared to a projected 50 year life span for the asphalt shingles.

Amortized over the roof’s life span, that would make the installation cost of a slate roof somewhat less.

But architect Ann McGuire said the annual maintenance cost for the slate roof would be about $20,000 — four times as much as for an asphalt shingle roof.

She said the brittle nature of slate means it tends to need more repair, and the skilled tradesmen required to do the repair work also cost more.


Evanston’s Civic Center Committee voted Wednesday night to recommend spending $1.5 million to replace the building’s deteriorated slate roof with asphalt shingles.

The panel rejected the idea of using slate for the new roof after a consulting firm, McGuire Igleski & Associates of Evanston, concluded slate would cost more.

The consultants estimated the initial cost of a slate roof at $2.1 million. The slate roof could last 75 years, compared to a projected 50 year life span for the asphalt shingles.

Amortized over the roof’s life span, that would make the installation cost of a slate roof somewhat less.

But architect Ann McGuire said the annual maintenance cost for the slate roof would be about $20,000 — four times as much as for an asphalt shingle roof.

She said the brittle nature of slate means it tends to need more repair, and the skilled tradesmen required to do the repair work also cost more.

McGuire’s firm considered two other roofing materials that would have an initial cost slightly less than slate but more than asphalt shingles.

She said synthetic slate shingles would cost $1.9 million initially and cost about $5,000 a year to maintain. But while the synthetic slate is projected to have a 50-year life span, it has only been in use for about 10 years, so there’s no way to tell for sure how long it will actually last.

She said a standing-seam metal roof would cost just over $2 million initially, but would likely last only 40 years and would need an estimated $7,000 a year in maintenance work. The metal roof was the only solution considered that McGuire said would not be “historically appropriate” to the age and style of the building.

The cost estimates for all versions of the roof project also include repairs to the roof sheathing, and the gutters, downspouts, flashing and tuck pointing.

McGuire said that the roof on the older, 1907 section of the building has generally held up well, but that it is near the end of its expected useful life.

The slate on the 1927 addition was replaced in 1988 but the plywood sheathing used in the repair job was installed incorrectly, she said, leading to problems with slates breaking and water leaking into the building.

City officials say the contractor on that job has since gone out of business, making it impossible for the city to recover for the mishandled job.

The future of the Civic Center has been a contentious issue for years.

A few years ago most aldermen strongly favored replacing the aging former Catholic girl’s school with a new building.

But the slump in the real estate market has blocked financing schemes for the move and, with the election of several new aldermen this spring, the City Council now seems committed to fixing up the building and staying put.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz, asked Wednesday by Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, how long he expects the city will stay in the existing building, replied, “I’ve informed the staff they should plan to be in the building for a while, at least a 20-year window.”

All six aldermen present at the meeting voted in favor of the roof repair plans, and Alderman Ann Rainey said that Alderman Melissa Wynne, who was not present, favors it as well.

That suggests the project should have no trouble winning approval when it comes before the full nine-member City Council for a final vote.

John Kennedy, head of the Friends of the Civic Center group that had campaigned to save the building, said he was pleased to see the aldermen moving forward with the repair project.

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