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Art center gets one year to get out

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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.

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