Northwestern Memorial Hospital has begun demolition work on the more than century-old Evanston Fireproof Warehouse building at 1840 Oak Ave.

The structure, built in 1907, was more recently used as an office building and had a rather spotty occupancy record.

 It sold in 2006 for $3.1 million but then changed hands again in 2012 for just $981,000, according to county records.

Northwestern University reportedly paid $4.5 million to acquire the building in 2017 and agreed to make voluntary payments in lieu of property taxes on that building and other properties it might acquire in the Research Park zoning district.

Chris King, chief media relations executive for Northwestern Memorial, tells Evanston Now the building will be demolished in stages by the end of this year.

Construction fencing now surrounds the building. Credit: Bill Smith

The interior of the building will be taken out floor-by-floor using a high-reach excavator and then the exterior wall will be taken down in small sections.

One nearby resident last week said she’d heard rumors the building was to be imploded. But City Manager Luke Stowe, in response to a query from Evanston Now, says that’s not true.

Hospital officials say that once the demolition is complete the property will be seeded with grass and secured with a decorative fence.

King says the hospital hasn’t determined a future use for the site, but that since it owns other buildings in the area it likely will prove useful in the future.

The hospital owns office buildings at 1880 Oak Ave. and 1033 University Place.

Northwestern University also owns a large parking lot across University Place from the 1840 Oak building that now is used on Saturdays for the city’s farmers market.

City officials have been exploring possible alternative sites for the market if the parking lot were to be redeveloped, but no decisions have been made about that so far.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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