Plans to open a cafe and coffee roasting operation in the police outpost on Howard Street in Evanston have fallen through.

City officials say Chris Casas, who planned to open the shop, has backed out of signing a lease for the city-owned property at 633 Howard St. The proposed lease was approved by aldermen early last month.

The proposed deal would have given Casas free rent for two years He then would have made a gradually escalating rent payment, that would reach $1,000 a month plus a percentage of gross sales by the fifth year. He also would have had an option to buy the building from the city after three years.

Casas has been involved in a number of other Evanston businesses in recent years, including the Coffee Speed Shop and the LaMacchina Cafe.

The city has been looking for a tenant for the outpost site since last spring — concluding, after the successful launch of two new businesses in city-owned properties adjacent to the outpost, that it was time to find a paying tenant for the outpost property. (The owners of one of the new busineses, the Ward Eight cocktail lounge, agreed this month to exercise an option to purchase their building from the citiy.)

It has already agreed to lease a new location for the outpost at 745 Howard.

So the city today issued a press release seeking a new tenant at 633 Howard “interested in bringing their food-related business” to the site — especially one that “would attract daytime customers to the area” in contrast to the existing restaurant and cocktail lounge in the other city-owned buildings on the block which have mainly an evening clientele.

Parties interested in the space can contact the city’s economic development manager, Johanna Nyden, at jnyden@cityofevanston.org or 847-448-8100.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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