Evanston aldermen Monday will consider whether to move toward tearing down the city-owned lakefront Harley Clarke mansion.
City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz plans to tell the Human Services Committee that efforts to reach an agreement with the state Department of Natural Resources to convert the building into offices for its Coastal Management Program have failed and that he sees little chance of finding another prospective tenant who would meet the council’s goals for having only “low impact” uses at the site.
With the building’s current tenant, the Evanston Art Center, scheduled to leave by mid-year for its own renovated building on Central Street, Bobkiewicz says it’s important that the city not allow the deteriorating building to stand empty.
So he is asking aldermen to authorize him to seek estimates for “deconstruction” of the building — dismantling it in a way that would preserve as much as possible of its parts for possible reuse.
The city has been seeking a new use — and a deep-pocketed new user — for the mansion since mid-2011, when officials concluded it needed more expensive maintenance and rehabilitation work than the city could afford.
Aldermen rejected the only firm proposal for a new use — Col. Jennifer Pritzker’s offer to expand the mansion and turn it into a 57-room boutique hotel — 18 months ago, after neighbors organized a campaign opposing the deal.