Garbage carts could soon be replaced with brewing tanks at Evanston’s former recycling center after aldermen Monday authorized the city manager to negotiate an agreement for Smylie Bros. Brewing Co. to take over the building at 2222 Oakton St.

Tanks at Revolution Brewery in Chicago in an image from the Smylie Bros. presentation.

The proposal had been approved last week by the city’s Economic Development Committee.

Representatives of youth sports groups that failed to come up with funding for an earlier plan to take over the building objected to the decision, as did a new youth sports group that also appeared to lack the financial resources to adapt the space.

And at least one citizen complained that the planned brewery would be less than 1,000 feet from Dawes Elementary School.

The city earlier this year sought requests for qualifications for potential new users of the building. Three responsive proposals were received, and city staff reviewing the proposals gave the one from Smylie Bros. a near-perfect score, by far the highest.

Alderman Brian Miller, 9th Ward, cast the only vote against the proposal. He said he didn’t believe the brewery and restaurant concept was the best use for the property.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said he had supported the idea of using the building at the edge of James Park for a recreation facility, but said the city’s been looking for a new use for the property for four years and he believes Smylie Bros. “will do an excellent job.”

The company last year opened a brew pub on Oak Avenue downtown and wants to expand because it’s reached its production capacity there.

Alderman Ann Rainey, whose 8th Ward includes the property, said the buiding has been vacant, except for use for storage, for 15 years and that the fears of opponents about the project are unsubstantiated, since the city already has several restaurants that serve liquor located close to schools.

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, said the Smylie Bros. concept would create jobs and generate new tax revenue for the city.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Wonderful use of the site

    Wonderful use of the site which has no or limited parking and is on only one bus route.  Oakton already lacks crosswalks – two at the Home Depot signal and one to the east near Dawes.  With all the soccer children and their families, as well as the cricket teams, we could expect many more walkers darting across Oakton, which has fairly heavy car traffic.  Human considerations seemed to have been overridden by tax revenue.

    1. no rec center
      coulda….shoulda….woulda……same old story! There goes the fun for the neglected group of middle/high school aged kids again! Instead of being known as a Tree City, Evanston will slowly become being known as a Brewery City!

  2. Citizens need to speak out

    The Alderman's comments are clear: their top priority is revenue. This is dangerous for a government because it leads to ignoring what is best for the citizens they supposedly represent. A brewery in Evanston is fine, but adjacent to a public park and very near an elementary school? What are our values?

    It is interesting that Rainey uses as an argument that the facility has been vacant for 15 years, when a couple of years ago she opposed conversion of the building to a youth sports facility on the basis that it was still being used. Therefore she cannot be trusted. As citizens we have a right and an obligation to have a say what uses are acceptable when public land is converted to private use. So we value tax revenue over what is right?

    1. Recreation

      So…people who may be looking to move to a city that offers unlimited fun for their children, most likely will look at the downtown and surrounding areas…and see restaurants and breweries.  How exciting is that?!  Crown needs to expand, there should be a roller rink, possibly a bowling alley, and an indoor facility for soccer, etc……there REALLY needs to be a "teen center"…..even for going to do homework with friends after school.   I guess when they're 18 and graduating, they can hang at all the beer and wine places……

      Seniors have the Levy Center, and it's THE place to be!  Lots of activities, food, events, classes, computers, beautiful garden, etc…'s always packed there…..

      So…between the downtown area catering to the NU students, and the Levy Center for seniors….what exactly is there that is enticing for the rest of the city's youth?   Not much, for sure!

      Get the Crown Center rebuilt into a larger facility, with the library added, another basketball court, more ice…and rooms for homework, socializing, doing fun things…and watch everyone come.  People should not think of it as just an ice facility..which is a bit limiting.  Most people don't skate, or care to. (and it can get costly).  Make it the hub of the recreation  part of the city.  There is the room to do that at the west end of the property, and everyone knows that.  Here's hoping that dream becomes a reality…..residents need numerous reasons to move and stay in Evanston…other than the schools and restaurants.

      1. Other centers

        Hi Nally,

        In addition to Robert Crown, Evanston has two recreation centers that are largely, though not exclusively, targeted to kids — the Fleetwood-Jourdain Center and the Chandler-Newberger Center. Is that "not much, for sure"?

        — Bill

        1. other centers

          Right..but they are small.  The asset that Crown has, is its location.   It "seems" that the north ends kids stay around Chandler.(and Starbucks on Central!)…..and the Fleetwood Center just has that huge gym……

          If there could be one large, encompassing building…that would be so great!   Crown does have a lot of kids coming from the F-J areas…but it needs another gym…and other utility rooms…..I'm sure F-J is overcrowded at times….


        2. Places to do Stuff

          Hi Nally

          Evanston has a Main Library plus two branches. Many parks that are under used. I believe that was a gather place on Church  near ETHS a few years back that went out of business. 

          1. Boocoo

            I believe you're referring to the Boocoo Cultural Center at 1823 Church St. — which has been acquired by the city and is reopening as the Gibbs-Morrison Cultural Center.

            — Bill

        3. Evanston certainly needs
          Evanston certainly needs indoor recreation facilities and the recycling center would be a prime location, but I wouldn’t go too far down the “Youth Center” path. Correct me if I’m wrong, but we once had a youth center, it was called the Levy Center and it was re-purposed to be a senior center… because kids didn’t use it. I think it is obvious that our elected officials and those they hire to run this city are simply not capable of planning and funding said facilities. With all due respect, Bill, the facilities you mentioned are falling apart.

        4. Have you been to Fleetwood

          Have you been to Fleetwood Jourdain? The Kid's Centers are falling apart at the seams.

          Little Beans doesn't count.

      2. Recreation Facilities and who pays for them ?
        Most of the comments about facilities imply that they will be provided by the city.
        But what about allowing private firms to provide some of them ?
        Ice hockey is expensive under any circumstance and taken up by very few. Are there not firms that would like to put in an ice skating rink ? What about a roller skating rink which should even cheaper and used by more people ? I think a hockey not a skate park was meant by the comment “Most people don’t skate, or care to. (and it can get costly).”
        What about a bowling alley and pool/billiard center–together or separate ? I know that they can be very popular.
        Maybe a handball and racket ball court business ? [The past NU President was big on that and their is a supplier here in Evanston.]

        1. youth sports

          The most popular sports are the ones that cost the least…..all a child needs is a pair of gym shoes to get hours and hours of good, sweaty exercise on a court…..even handball or tennis is great….anything that keeps the kids having good, clean fun and socializing, is wonderful…..and yes, probably all the centers are in bad need of repair.   That should be a big priority for the city.   On another note….if anyone saw the item about Cook County sales tax going to 10%….everyone who was interviewed said they would all be going across to Lake County to shop.  That's not a good thing…..Evanston needs to keep its prices low for classes, programs, skating, etc……Open Gym, I believe, is free at all the centers.

          1. Low User Fees

            ".Evanston needs to keep its prices low for classes, programs, skating, etc……Open Gym, I believe, is free at all the centers"

            Low user fees or free would be nice  but not possible. You need to at least recover costs of maintenance and salaries for the employees.  Otherwise you're putting an additional tax on nonuser residents

            As I mentioned previously Evanston has lots of Park Land that sit mostly vacant. These would be excellant locations for "good clean fun"

        2. Find someone
          The city reached out to lots of people in the residential and commercial community and got several people to volunteer the idea of a sports facility of some sort, but got zero groups with credibility who were able to fund and construct such a project. Now I read that the city is looking to cut city services to make a city budget even possible, and these same people want the city to pay for a multimillion-dollar repurposing of a warehouse for teens to hang out in?

          That issue aside, no, I don’t think an indoor roller rink would be more popular than a skating rink, and I don’t think a skating rink would get all that much business over there to justify the expense. Ice rinks are indeed expensive to maintain, and a private ice rink would need someone willing to step in with $$$$ to make reality, and despite years worth of the city trying to unload the building, no one ever came up with the money for that. That idea isn’t very likely to happen. Just my 2 cents on the topic. (Roller rink? Really?) I bet you’d have to knock half that building down (THAT isn’t a bad idea) to repurpose it into some sort of bowling alley, and still, it isn’t the kind of bustling commercial district that can support things like a bowling alley, especially a small one. Do they still make bowling alleys that only have 3 lanes? That’s like a movie theater with only two screens.

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