The Evanston North Shore Contractors Cooperative will ask aldermen tonight for extra time to finish its renovation of a formerly city-owned building at 1817 Church St. and an amendment to the purchase agreement to expand the type of businesses that can rent space in the property.

Under the original agreement the rehab work was to have been completed in 18 months. Leaders of the co-op now say they hope to have it finished next month — which will be 34 months after the work began.

A view of a third-floor office in the building today.

Co-op officials say they were unable to find contractors interested in leasing the now-completed upper two floors of the building — but have leased them to a set of three related companies based in Wilmette that aid school districts searching for new superintendents.

An image of the third floor from before the work began.

In selling the building to the contractor’s co-op in 2012 for $1, the city retained a right to regain ownership of it if the co-op didn’t comply with terms of the agreement.

The city also provided a $200,000 loan from tax increment financing district funds to help cover costs of renovating the building, which had fallen into a severe state of disrepair.

John Leineweber of the co-op says that, in addition to the loaned funds, work on the building has ended up costing the group nearly $250,000 — or close to double what had been originally budgeted. He says the cost increases — and issues caused by two winters with unusually severe weather conditions — contributed to the delays in completing the project.

Members of the co-op still plan to occupy space on the first floor, once it’s completed.

In return for agreeing to the requested amendments, city staff is asking that the co-op participate in the mayor’s summer youth employement program, provide other job-training opportunities and permit the city to hold four meetings of city groups at the facility over the next two years at no charge.

The 1817 Church St. building, which originally was constructed to house a veterinary practice, was acquired by the city decades ago. In 2001 the city gave it to a group that hoped to establish a black history museum at the site, but that group ran into financial difficulties and the city regained ownership in 2007.

Update: After some discussion at the Administration and Public Works Committee meeting, the co-op’s requests were approved on the City Council’s consent agenda Monday night.

Related stories

City moves toward selling building to contactor co-op (12/1/11)

Incubator for building trades sought on Church (7/29/11)

City seeks ideas for 1817 Church building (3/14/11)

City ponders future for derelict building (7/29/10)

Museum project on the ropes (10/7/07)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. Surprise?!?

    Does it surprise anyone that this group of contractors could not (1) accurately project the costs of the project and/or (2) finish the project on time? What makes the city think that they will be good landlords if they cannot even perform their main business function?

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