Evanston will resume efforts next year to recycle its former recycling center — this time into an indoor sports facility.
The Economic Development Committee approved plans to issue a request for proposals for new uses for the property at 2222 Oakton Ave. at its meeting Wednesday night.
The new plans still require approval form the full City Council. That’s expected in January. Economic Development Manager Paul Zalmezak told the committee that the city could received proposals for a new use by March and, if all goes well, a new owner might take over the property by next fall.
Zalmezak says city staff has received unsolicited inquiries in recent weeks from individuals seeking to convert it for a variety of uses “including platform tennis/pickleball, indoor skatepark with retail, baseball batting cages and squash.”
Some proposals have also included providing food and beverage service, Zalmezak added.
Ald. Devon Reid (8th) said at the EDC meeting he would prefer to see the city lease, rather than sell, the facility, because “we don’t have a ton of publicly-owned land on the south end of town.”
The recycling center is adjacent to James Park, the largest parcel of city-owned parkland in Evanston.
But Ald. Melissa Wynee (3rd) said the city would likely not get as much interest from developers if the property was not for sale. “That’s what’s happened in the past,” Wynne said, “so we want to offer it for lease or sale and see what comes in.”
The recycling center closed just over a decade ago after the city’s switch to curbside recycling pickups made the drop-off center property obsolete.
Since then a variety of proposals to use it for sports facilities, a brewery, an event space or a waste transfer station have all either been rejected by the city or have fallen apart after the city approved a deal with a developer.