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Billionaire’s lakefront B&B plan up for vote

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Billionaire James Prizker's plan to turn a lakefront home at 300 Church St. into a bed and breakfast goes before the Evanston City Council tonight.

Pritzker, ranked by Forbes magazine as one of the nation's 400 richest individuals, is a manager of Evergreen Manor LLC, which, according to city officials, bought the property for $2 million recently and proposes to spend another $2 million to upgrade the Tudor-style home.

The building would have five guest rooms, plus a basement apartment for the on-site manager, who would be one of the two other managers of the LLC, Cathi and Dawn Overend.

The plans drew a mixed response from residents at a 1st Ward meeting last week, with some residents objecting to having a "mini-hotel" in a single family area while others said they believe it was a good proposal that would increase property values along the lakefront.

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said she didn't believe the proposed arrangement, in which one of the owner-managers of a company formed to own the property would live on site, met the intent of the 1993 zoning ordinance that approved the B&B concept.

She said she believed it was intended "to let a mom and pop who lived in a house and maybe their kids were grown, to open a couple of bedrooms to allow people to raise a little extra money."

While the city's zoning code permits bed and breakfasts as a special use in single family zones, officials say that at the moment none have been approved to operate legally in Evanston.

After plans for the project raised some concerns among city staff about it having only three parking spaces, the proposal was rejected last month by the Zoning Board of Appeals on a 4-1 vote.

The aldermen tonight will be faced with a decision to either uphold that vote, or reject it and schedule a public hearing on the proposal at a later date.

Pritzker, 60, a member of the family that controls the Hyatt Hotel chain, is a retired colonel in the Illinois National Guard and is best known for founding the Pritzker Military Library in Chicago which awards an annual $100,000 prize for authors of military histories.

Less than a year ago he purchased a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home on Sheridan Road in Rogers Park for $1.7 million.

Related document

Plans for the B&B submitted to the city (.pdf)

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