Evanston aldermen told city staff this week to press Smylie Brothers Brewing Co. for payment of back taxes and rent on the city’s former recycling center now that the brewer wants to break its 10-year lease on the property.

The company’s head, Michael Smylie, told city officials last month that he wants to exit the lease that took effect 17 months ago. Smylie was granted rent-free use of the property for the agreement’s first 18 months to ready the site for use as a beer production facility and tap room.

Late last month Smylie Brothers announced on social media that they’d opened a different brewing facility on Chicago’s north side.

Smylie claimed he should be able to exercise a “mutual termination” clause in the lease, but the city’s legal staff says any termination option in the agreement expired nearly a year ago.

City staff says several other businesses are interested in the property, and Jonathan Shepard, co-founder of First Ascent Climbing & Fitness, appeared at Monday’s City Council meeting to express his interest.

Jonathan Shepard.

Shepard said the high ceilings in the recycling center building would make it ideal for the rock climbing exercise programs that First Ascent offers at its four  existing Chicago locations.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said he would return to the Council in two weeks with plans for a new request for proposals seeking a new user for the recycling center property at 2222 Oakton St. and would be back with an update on talks with Smylie Brothers at the Council’s June 11 meeting.

Related stories

Smylie seeks to bail on recycling center (5/11/18)

Aldermen OK recycling center lease for brewery (12/13/16)

Slow going for brewery deal with city (7/20/16)

Aldermen back brewery concept at recycling center (7/14/15)

City seeks new use for recycling center (4/6/15)

‘Over my dead body,’ alderman says of sale (3/17/15)

Sports lease talks for Evanston recycling center drag on (7/9/12)

Play ball inside recycling center? (1/21/11)

Carts bring end to recycling center (7/14/10)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Lease is a legal contract
    It’s my understanding that both Smylie Brothers and City of Evanston willingly signed the lease agreement
    that stipulated certain conditions that both parties are legally obligated to fulfill.

    Releasing Smylie from the 10 year lease with no payment would set a dangerous precedent and it’s unclear to me why staff would
    recommend that option.

    If there is no financial penalty paid by Smylie Brothers, would this open the door for other parties to do the same?

    Effectively, Smylie brothers thought they had a free “put” option to release themselves from this contract.

    Glad to know that the Alderman are looking out for the best interests of taxpayers.

    1. Precedent already set
      I think the precedent has already been set. Remember Chicken and Waffles? They skipped town after the city gave them money.

  2. What does he mean by “press”?
    What does he mean by “press”?
    Any other rational minded administration would be looking into filing a lawsuit.
    It’s amateur night at the Evanston city council again.

  3. Competent legal staff and Council ? Does not look like it
    We saw with Chicken and Waffle and Trader Joes and I’m sure many others, that the Council, bureaucrats and lawyers don’t know how to evaluate a deal [aka give-a-way].
    The give-a-ways to the arts groups [rents], not holding them to the deal they made [up-keep and repairs] and the long time boondoggle of the Mansion, make it clear that the Council and its tentacles should not be trusted with such matters.
    Who winds-up paying ? The taxpayer of course. The Council hopes their deals get them votes. If the business falls through, well they have a bag of excuses and hope the voters will forget.

    1. Well, we see with this lease
      Well, we see with this lease that some bureaucrats and lawyers DO know how to evaluate a deal. They have a contract in hand that Smylie Bros. will be forced to heed unless some new action is taken. We’re in a good position because of the work of bureaucrats. The question is whether the council will hold strong. Which ultimately is a question of public opinion. Talk to your neighbors. And your aldermen.

  4. Smylie Lease Breakers
    Smylie signed a lease and they should be help accountable for all of the eighteen months of abated rent plus at least one or two full years of rent if they want the lease canceled. They want to back out, they need to pay for the abatement, time, and energy taxpayers have spent in entering into a lease agreement with them.

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