The Evanston Art Center this week closed on the purchase of a commercial building at 1717 Central St. that it plans to turn into its new home.

The center faces a January deadline from the city to move out of its current leased space at the Harley Clarke mansion on the city’s lakefront, and it plans to also consolidate at the new location studios it currently rents at the city’s Noyes Cultural Arts Center.

A complete renovation of the mid-century modern building will begin this month, the center’s executive director, Norah Diedrich, says transforming the former office space into a place where creativity meets community.

The Art Center’s capital campaign, “See the Bigger Picture,” which launched in July, has collected $1,800,000 in contributions toward its $2,500,000 goal. The Art Center plans to begin programming from 1717 Central St.;for its summer session 2015.

Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, said the center is a “welcome addition to our Central Street business district and will be a magnet for neighbors, shoppers, and the North Shore artists’ community.

Ra Joy, Executive Director of Arts Alliance Illinois added, “We look forward to seeing the continued positive impact the reimagined and updated Center will make on Evanston’s community, culture, and economy.”

The new facility will include innovative elements designed to encourage an open, vibrant atmosphere, such as movable gallery walls, large overhead entrance doors, flex spaces that allow for multiple activities, and an exposed structure.

It will have dedicated parking, an elevator to all floors, natural light, polished concrete gallery floors, dedicated youth classroom spaces, and the Art Bar, for coffee, will add to the appeal.

Podolsky|Circle CORFAC International coordinated the negotiations for the Central Street facility after conducting an exhaustive search of the greater Evanston area. They provided comprehensive commercial real estate services, ranging from strategic planning and site selection to acquisition and financing consultation.

The Evanston Art Center was provided further assistance by counsel Coree Smith at Kirkland & Ellis, lender First Bank & Trust and design-build contractor The Dobbins Group.

Related stories

Art center withdraws request for loan from city (9/25/14)

Art center seeks $500K loan from city (9/21/14)

Art center finds new space (7/15/14)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Is Wally building a private

    Is Wally building a private patio for them with city employees and materials?

    1. art center
      hahaha….they don’t need a patio, but PLEASE put in extra parking spaces. …..and hurray for the new building! It is a great addition to the Central St. shopping and dining area……VERY exciting!

      1. NO MORE

        After all the trouble the Arts Center has caused Evanston, I don't see a need for extra parking spaces. With all the money they have quickly raised, They could have taken better care of the mansion and paid a fair rent for all these past years. They were a bad tenant and the Evanston City Council allowed them to get away with it for years.

  2. Take up a collection
    After the sweetheart deal the Arts Center got previously and still could not make a go of it and fulfill their side of the arrangement, no public funds should be used for this new location–or any location. Let them take up a collection or get a bank loan–if they can even show the bank that they are a financially sound venture.
    But under no conditions should taxpayers or the city be involved in any form.
    After all like the theater ventures these are supported for a very few people—who probably don’t even attend–and given the public art we have seen, would not know art if it bit them.

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