Ald. Devon Reid (8th) told residents at a ward meeting Thursday evening that he’s seeking to have the city purchase a fire-damaged building at 741 Howard St.

The fire last July displaced nine residents from three apartments in the building.

Reid says he hopes that building, and another the city already owns at 727-729 Howard, can be redeveloped with mixed income housing, possibly in collaboration with the Housing Authority of Cook County.

The view west on Howard from the city-owned building at 727-729 Howard toward the fire-damaged building at 741 Howard. (Google Maps, 2019)

The 727-729 Howard building had been acquired by the city in 2011 at the urging of then Ald. Ann Rainey in hopes the city would be able to use it to spur commercial development on the block.

It has been vacant for much of the time since. Reid says a non-profit fitness studio that leased the space from the city in 2018 recently closed after its organizer moved to Spain.

Reid said the city has obtained an appraisal on the 741 Howard building and that the City Council is scheduled to discuss the potential purchase in an executive session meeting on Oct. 10.

He declined to specify what price was named in the appraisal.

The parcel the city already owns and the one Reid hopes it will acquire are separated by another property that now houses a laundromat and its parking lot.

739 Howard St. (Google Maps, 2019)

County records indicate that property has been owned since 2005 by a couple who live in Skokie.

Reid did not mention whether he anticipates the city will acquire that property as well.

Reid said the appraisal on the fire-damaged building appeared “reasonable” and that the city should be able to acquire it using fund from the Howard-Ridge tax increment financing district.

Reid said he’s already spoken with officials from the housing authority and that he hopes the new project would be a mixed-income development “so that we’re not creating slums or areas that have a high proportion of low income residents that sometimes become easy to ignore and under-resource.”

The county housing authority currently has two new developments in the works in Evanston.

The City Council this week granted an extension of time for HACC to start construction of The Emerson, a planned 16-story high rise at 1900 Sherman Ave.

And a community meeting is scheduled for Oct.19 to discuss plans to redevelop a city-owned parking lot at 506 South Blvd. along with adjoining HACC-owned townhomes.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Leave a comment

The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *