Aldermen voted Monday give the Evanston Art Center until next Jan. 31 to leave the city-owned Harley Clarke mansion on the lakefront.

A City Council committee had voted last week to terminate the center’s lease with the minimum 240 day notice required by terms of the lease.

EAC attorney Barack Echols pleads for extra time.

But after art center supporters complained that the October deadline would disrupt the center’s fall classes, the full City Council, on a motion from Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, voted to extend the deadline until January.

Alderman Jane Grover.

However they rejected a suggestion from Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, that the center be allowed to stay for 18 months, closer to the two years center officials had previously asked for.

The city hopes to reach an agreement with the state Department of Natural Resources to house the agency’s Coastal Management Program at the mansion.

DNR officials have said the agency has funds to renovate the mansion and pay a market rent for it to the city.

The art center has long leased the building for $1 a year with a responsibility to maintain it. But over time an expensive list of deferred maintenance issues have developed at the property.

Art center officials have concluded that it would cost over $5 million to properly upgrade the building — money the center has no apparent means to raise. And even then, the centers leaders believe, the building would not fully meet its goals.

But despite looking for a new space for over two years, center officials have failed to decide on a new location.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. snookered again !

    Want to bet they keep coming back asking for even more  time ?  "Leaving in January would disrupt Spring class", "Leaving in mid [late] 2015 would disrupt _____"

    At a minimum the Arts Center should fulfill their obligation [given their $1 rent] and bring the building/property up to standard from the postponed maintenance  or pay the city the $ million cost for such to be done.  Until that is done there should  not even be any proposal let alone action to find a space for them or allow them to even purchase a space.

    The city is far to easy on groups—e.g. the golf course water bill—in forgiving debts.

    1. Disdain

      Where does the hostility toward the art center come from? Will someone please explain how an art and education-based non-profit community art center provokes such nasty comments? What did the Art Center ever do to people aside from give everyone in the region a pathway to access visual art? People like the above should be ashamed. If you are against the Evanston Art Center, you are against people who want to learn (children and adults) and working artists who use the place. The kind of people that dislike the art center must be insane. 

      1. I agree–why all the negativity?

        I agree in regard to the negative comments about the Evanston Art Center.  This is an institution that a wide variety of people benefit from–especially children.  Tone down the useless, negative rhetoric.  The center is being evicted–you have won.  What more do you people want?  Please–move on to another topic and bully some other individual or institution.    

        1. Why?
          Ahh lollipops and good feelings, it’s art afterall!

          No. This group rented out this facility for $1 a year for decades. And the facility is in the state of disrepair, costing the city (and eventually the taxpayer) millions to renovate.

          Who used who?

          Do the math – that is reality, not lollipops and touchy feely good art related stuff.

          And now they get 18 months? Amazing.

          Is the EAC to be heald accountable for anything here? Or are they going to find another pawn to underwrite their next facility… maybe for $2 a year?

    2. Lease Extension

      Did the city discuss transition plans with the Coastal Management Program before granting an extension to the Art Center?

      1. Is this how they look for a place ?

        The DailyNorthwestern reports "The art center has spent $45,000 to $50,000 for real estate consulting and architectural plans, among other services, Diedrich said."


        Do they like the Council pay consultants at the drop of a hat ? Don't they want to do leg-work and drive around and look for feasible locations ?  How can they have consultants making architectural plans when they don't have a location and don't seem to even know where/when they plan on moving.

        Maybe they should pay these fees to the City instead of hiring consultants.

        People rail aganst NU for not paying property tax and other [whatever] things.  But what about the multitude of "cultural" centers [really just cheap training grounds for those who think they can them make $$$ with "skills" (?) they learned for free. At least NU provides benefit to the city and through non-property taxes has to fill most of the city's coffers.  Imagine what Evanston would be without NU !

        As to those who say we are against culture—no we are against free professional training at the taxpayers expense.  Taking all these "arts" funds and devoting them to teaching some arts or at least appreciaton in K-12 would have a much bigger payoff.

  2. Too much time

    Alderman Tendam wanted to give the Arts Center 18 months even though the Arts Center allegedly has been searching for a new location for two years? I guess that's another $1 in the city coiffures. Whew hoo! 

    This extended deadline gives Pritzker enough time to come back for another attempt to buy the lakefront property and build a huge hotel on it.


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