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Four groups submit Harley Clarke proposals

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Four groups submitted proposals for leasing the Harley Clarke mansion from the City of Evanston by the 2 p.m. deadline this afternoon.

The city declined to release any information today about the proposals beyond the names of the submitting organizations and the name of the cities in which the groups are based.

The groups are the Artists Book House, the Evanston Community Lakehouse and Gardens, the Evanston Conservancy Benefit Corporation and the ONECommunity Museum.

The Artists Book House group, incorporated last September, is headed by author Audrey Niffenegger. She presented preliminary plans for her concept for reusing the mansion at a Civic Center meeting last November.

The Evanston Community Lakehouse and Gardens group also presented plans at the November meeting. The Lakehouse group was initially organized in 2015 during an earlier effort by the city to lease the mansion.

The Evanston Conservancy Benefit Corporation is a new organization incorporated this month and headed by Richard R. Murray, who founded Equity Schools, Inc., a benefit corporation that seeks to solve capital and operational funding problems for schools and other organizations.

In a telephone interview this afternoon Murray said quite a few people are involved in the project and that he would be able to provide details about it next week.

The ONECommunity Museum group, organized last fall, is based in Norfolk, Virginia, and headed by Allison Lavigne.

Lavigne, in a phone interview, said she and her husband have deep connections to Evanston and that they hope to reuse the building as a museum that would offer programs in the areas of environmental sustainability and youth literacy.

Under the city’s timetable for finding a new use for the shuttered mansion, city staff is scheduled to review the four proposals and make a recommendation to the City Council in time for the Council’s March 23 meeting.

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