Evanston city officials plan to try again to sell the lakefront Harley Clarke mansion — this time to the State of Illinois.
Aldermen at Wednesday’s Human Services Committee meeting are scheduled to review a proposal to authorized City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz to negotiate terms for the sale of the mansion buildings and a lease of the grounds to the state Department of Natural Resources.
The state plans to move offices for the department’s Coastal Management Program into the building.
In previous discussions of the proposed arrangement, state and city officials had described it as a lease of the building, rather than a purchase of it.
More than three years ago city officials decided they lacked the funds to maintain the mansion, which the city has leased for $1 a year to the Evanston Art Center for several decades.
After an extensive process of seeking proposals for new uses for the site, only one formal proposal was submitted.
That plan, from Col. Jennifer Pritzker, to purchase the property — but not the adjacent beach — and expand the mansion for use as a boutique hotel was rejected by aldermen in July 2013 on a 6-3 vote after neighbors complained about commercialization of the lakefront.
A yard sign opposing the sale to Pritzker.
It was after that vote that state officials first expressed an interest in the property.
The art center, after a lengthy debate about its future, decided it couldn’t afford to maintain the building either and has announced plans to move to a vacant office building at 1717 Central St. and has launched a $2.5 million fundraising campaign to pay for it.
Under the city code, a two-thirds vote by the City Council is required to approve negotiations for the sale. Then, after terms of the deal have been agreed upon by the city manager and the buyer, the deal would require another two-thirds vote by the City Council to put it into effect.
Assuming the committee approves moving forward Wednesday night, the issue is expected to go to the full City Council for introduction next Monday.