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City to hire fundraiser for Crown Center

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Evanston aldermen tonight are scheduled to vote on a staff recommendation to spend $477,500 to hire a fundraising consulting firm to run a campaign to raise contributions for a new Robert Crown Community Center.

The firm, Community Counselling Services Co. LLC, is headquartered in New York, but has an office with about 50 employees in Chicago.

The firm has done fundraising for numerous non-profit organizations, ranging from Evanston-based Rotary International to the Catholic Archdiosese of Chicago.

Last winter the aldermen set a goal of raising $5 million to $18 million in private donations to help fund either a replacement or extensive rehabilitation of the Crown Center. Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl is also urging aldermen to spend $10 million of taxpayer funds toward the rec center project as well as an additional $2.5 million to include a new branch library at the site.

CCS, on its website, claims that its fees typically add up to between three and eight percent of the contributions raised in a campaign — which would indicate a target goal of between $6 million and $16 million.

The proposal calls for the firm to conduct an initial feasibility study — interviewing potential donors — through this October and then conduct the capital campaign over the following 12 months.

A staff memo says both CSS and another consulting firm that submitted a bid for the project said the city isn't ready to start fundraising immediately, because of its lack of an established donor base and needs to begin with the feasibility study..

Aldermen tonight are also scheduled to approve a parks and facilities capital improvement plan that includes spending $1 million next year to design a new or renovated Crown Center.

Previous cost estimates for a new Crown Center on Main Street near Dodge Avenue have ranged from around $20 million to as high as $55 million, with a renovation project estimated to cost around $18 million.


Update 9:15 a.m.: City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz now says that in the interest of getting tonight's City Council meeting over in time for attendees to watch the Stanley Cup finals game on television, the capital improvement plan proposal and other items including the citywide youth services overview and an economic development update are expected to be postponed until a future meeting.

But hiring the Robert Crown fundraising consultant will still be up for action.

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