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Evanston City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says he’s buying a condo in Evanston, and making use of a provision in his city contract to help pay for it.

Bobkiewicz, who’s been on the job for nearly two years, is buying a condo in the Biscuit Factory lofts development at 601 Linden Place.

The complex, once a Nabisco factory, was redeveloped in the mid 1990s as residential condos. The one- and two-bedroom units originally sold for $90,000 to $170,000.

Under his contract he’s entitled to an interest-free loan from the city of $200,000 to help purchase a home in the city, and he’s exercising that clause in his contract to buy the condo.

Bobkiewicz says he plans to move into the new place within the next couple of weeks.

The manager, who by contract is required to live in the city, has been renting in Evanston until now.

If he quits or is fired from his city job, he’ll have up to a year under the contract to repay the loan.

Above: Google Maps image of the Biscuit Factory lofts.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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12 Comments

  1. The city is broke right?

    Does this loan program apply for all city employees? At one time some city employees had benefits taken away because not all city employees were getting the use of the benefits. Is a time of financial hardship really the time for the Manager of our city to take the city up on this loan?

  2. Fire Wally Now

    There is no way Evanston should give any money to Wally for a condo.  Wally should be fired immediately.  He has failed as a city manager.  Every level of city government is contemptuous of his incompetence and hostility.  It was even announced today that one of the most senior members of the city government has resigned.  It is rumored that she is leaving because of his mean-spirited management style.  

    How much longer will the calamity continue?

    1. Good Job Wally

      Wally is performing a difficult job in a difficult environment and he's doing pretty well by what I can see.  Yes, he has been trying to shake things up, reorganizing and maybe coming down on things that maybe some staff don't like.

      Far as I'm concerned any City employees, senior or otherwise, who don't want to get with the program and thinks everything is hostile, incompetent and contemptuous can go find their little cozy unmolested nirvana elsewhere, don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

      Evanston doesn't like change, change is disruptive, change is difficult, change doesn't always go the direction  you want it to, but change is necessary as are the people who advocate and force change.  Adapt or die.

      I think Wally is a hardworking, conscientious manager and I wish him all the best in his efforts.  Keep at it Wally, your work is noticed and appreciated.

  3. Good for Wally

    I think it's good policy using loan incentives to require high-ranking city employees to live in Evanston.

    I'd like to see that policy expanded to police and firefighters just as the city of Chicago does – at least for higher-ranking fire and police employees.

    I believe there is also a city-sponsored home loan incentive for police and firefighters. Obviously few Evanston firefighters have taken advantage of it since I think more than 85 percent of them don't live in Evanston.

    It's good to see Wally investing in Evanston. Now the unions can't lambaste him for living in his father-in-law's rental while his wife lives out of state or whatever vitriol they were spewing when Wally laid-off about 45 city employees and three firefighters who were rehired back after the Evanston Fire Union sued the city.

    The bad news is the powerful unions could pressure the Council to fire Wally, and if that happens within a year or two, he might have a tough time reselling his condo.

    1. I agree… Good for Wally!

      I totally agree with the comments above & in addition, I applaud him for picking South Evanston.  It's an area, because of its proximity to Howard St,  that deals with more city-like issues than the North Side.  Many residents worry our concerns aren't always heard or fully understood.  Hopefully having the City Manager on this side of town will have a positive effect on this neighborhood that so many of us are proud to call home!  

  4. Reasonable policy

    Providing a incentive for the senior manager to live here is not unreasonable.  My concern has been Wally had not bought a home here and was going to leave.  If we look at the past history of city managers who have worked here, there have been too many managers that were here for the short term.

    We have had too many temporary managers,  Wally has made some mistakes but given the council and Mayor are suppose to set the policy and direction here, with so much misdirection Wally is not 100%  to blame for all the mistakes.

    I don't want him to leave too soon, "Ponzi and Friends" would miss him.

  5. Outraged

    This is more evidence that the City Council is working against the interest of the citizens.  There is a growing consensus that Wally is not capable of managing Evanston's city government.  According to one city employee, there was a near mutiny at the service center several weeks ago.  It's time to transition to a new city manager.  If he wants to live in Evanston after the inevitable happens, he should pay for his own condo.    For the City Council to provide a home buyer loan to Wally proves how adversarial they are to the interest of the citizens. 

    1. Not adversarial at all

      When Wally leaves his job, the loan converts to 4% interest, which is fairly close to market, though the kind of open ended repayment (due upon sale) could make it a really long time before the City gets its money back. I'm just glad Wally now has skin in the game – tax hikes with no improvement in services will drive down the value of the property and so hopefully he will be a forceful advocate for taxpayers going forward.

  6. Can we get a city government that makes sense?

    Evanston is not in the best fiscal situation. Can we get competent people in there? How can a city commit to give interest free loans when the city itself is paying a non zero interest to borrow via bonds? Pay interest to give interest free loans. How did that make financial and fiscal sense in any city official's mind?

  7. A deal is a deal

    I am pretty sure the (mostly anonymous) people who are spewing negative comments have no idea how hard Mr. Bobkiewicz works for the Citizens of Evanston.  I ran into him leaving City Hall after 9 PM on Monday night and asked him how often he is there late.  "Four nights this week" was his response. 

    How many of us are willing to do this on a regular basis?  His job includes attending (or leading) meetings, dealing with the myriad of city issues, putting "band-aids" on and finding solutions for situations created by several layers of his predecessors (and policies of former administrations and councils).   He deserves some slack!

    One of the things we sought in our search for a professional City Manager was someone who could cut costs and yet maintain the quality of life here in Evanston.  I certainly do not agree with all the cuts and added fees – but I think Wally deserves a chance to implement his program.

    When the City engaged in a search for a very highly qualified replacement City Manager, they were lucky to attract someone with the experience and work ethic of  Wally Bobkiewicz.  It is common to offer a wide range of incentives and this loan offer is just one of them.  A deal is a deal!

    Welcome to SE Evanston Wally…  Thanks for your hard work.

    Respectfully submitted, Brian Becharas

    1. Wally works hard for this city

      I couldn't agree with your comments more.  The folks that are doing the complaining are likely not watching the budget process.  Wally brings ideas for cuts to the table and our council sends him back to the drawing board for "additional information on that suggestion."  After enough of these ideas are batted down by our illustrious (and newly renamed) aldermen, we end up with fees added on to services so the budget can be met.  Meantime, instead of making real cuts that would be impactful, our council wastes time during city council meetings debating their own title, chickens in the coop and voting in pensions for part-time employees.  If people are looking for someone to blame, they should look to the alderman and the pet projects each have that are driving back-room dealing.  I would like to point out that Alderman Burrus consistently notes that we do not have funding for budgets/projects/etc., but she is constantly voted down by our other aldermen.

  8. I only question why he bought

    I only question why he bought a condo.  He should have bought a house.  

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