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The non-profit Evanston Art Center received final approval Wednesday from a city committee for its plans to remodel a vacant office building at 1717 Central St. as its new headquarters.

The center purchased the building last November after a successful fundraising drive and an announcement in July that it had acquired an option on the property.

The center is scheduled to move out of the city-owned lakefront Harley Clarke mansion in June.

Mark Kluemper.

At Wednesday’s Design and Project Review Committee meeting project architect Mark Kluemper of The Dobbins Group said the center had had to trim some of its plans for the renovation to meet its budget limits — including deciding to use the half-century old building’s existing windows, rather than replacing them with new, more energy-efficient ones.

Art Center Director Norah Diedrich said replacing the windows would likely be one objective of future fundraising efforts.

1717 Central St. in a pre-renovation photo.

The main exterior change to the building will be the addition of a new side entrance off the parking lot that will have a bright yellow canopy leading to it. A bump-out of the second floor space above the new entry is meant to bring more light into new gallery space there.

Kluemper said the existing parking lot is wider than required by city regulations, and the center plans to narrow the lot enough to add an 8-foot by 60-foot sculpture garden covered with bluestone chips behind the new entryway — which will also reduce the impervious surface coverage of the property.

With one modification — to include bicycle parking as required by city ordinance — the plans were approved unanimously by the committee.

Community Development Director Mark Muenzer called the project “a fantastic reuse of this building” that would continue the momentum of new development on that section of Central Street.

The center previously received approval for interior demolition work on the building and Kluemper said that work, to remove old office partitions, is well underway.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. Expansion of Council support and tax dollars for other groups
    With the number and wide variety of art, theater and music organizations the city supports through grants, rental agreements, publicity, using taxpayer dollars, I wonder when they will expand these to other interests.
    Surely the city can give equal weight to centers for education and development by/for professionals and amateurs in mathematics, physics, biology.
    Yes there are schools for these but there are also school for music, art, theater at both the high school and college level. Should we not also use taxpayer dollars in the same proportions for mathematics and the physical/biological sciences for those interested in these fields—and hopefully will then contribute to society intellectually and economically ?

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