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Evanston to seek to buy abandoned gas station

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Evanston aldermen Monday night approved a staff proposal to try to buy the site of an abandoned gas station at Church Street and Darrow Avenue.

Alderman Coleen Burrus, 9th Ward, objected to the purchase, saying city shouldn't be spending money on a property with such serious environmental issues.

But Paul Zalmezak of the city's economic development staff said the property has been appraised at $340,000 and that it appears the city would be able to acquire it for about $150,000 or less.

Zalmezak said environmental remediation work — removing four old gasoline tanks on the property — would be done by a contractor to be hired by the city, which would make the land suitable for slab-on-grade construction.

Burrus said not being able to build below grade would substantially limit the value of the site to a future developer, but Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, says a lot of other buildings in the area are slab on grade now.

Zalmezak said the city has firm figures on the cost of the environmental work, which should be about $75,000.

The proposal to negotiate for purchase of the lot was approved 7-1 with Burrus casting the only no vote.

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