A group calling itself BE Evanston named board members this week its campaign to save the Boocoo Cultural Center on the city’s west side.

The center faces a variety of financial problems. The group on its Facebook page says the building at 1823 Church St. is facing seizure by the IRS for nonpayment of taxes.

In addition, BMO Harris bank last spring filed a foreclosure action against the property, which is owned by E-Town Community Ventures, controlled by investor Daniel Cheifetz.

About $27,000 in 2012 property taxes on the buiilding also are unpaid.

Boocoo was opened in mid-2007 by the Cheifetz-owned non-profit Enterprise Development Foundation.
The Illinois Secretary of State’s website indicates E-Town Community Ventures remains an active corporation, but the Enterprise Development Foundation is listed as having been involuntarily dissolved.

Cheifetz could not be reached for comment.

The center has continued to operate through the difficulties, although some staffers complained two years ago that it was in dire financial straits and organized a fundraiser in an effort to save it.

The “BE Evanston” group says it’s seeking additional board members and “investors committed to participating in actionable change for our community” would would be willing to put up $15,000 or more “to help purchase the building and raise capital.”

A call requesting comment from the organization’s new fundraising and special events director, Sally Mabadi, an real estate agent with Koenig & Strey Real Living, was not returned.

Alderman Dolores Holmes, 5th ward, said no one from the “BE Evanston” group, or anyone else, had contacted her regarding Boocoo’s financial issues.

Boocoo and EDF’s fiscal woes date back several years. During the period of January 2007 to March 2009, EDF’s expenses vastly exceeded revenues — by more than $1 million — according to IRS-990 forms filed by the corporation. More recent data was not available.

The Boocoo building, which at one time had been a dollar store, was renovated in 2007 in a program designed to train neighborhood youths for constructio trades careers.

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    1. ETHS – reply

      District 202 neither has funds nor inclination to purchase this property let alone properly renovate this area. If they did, surely they would have stepped up to the plate many years ago.

      Besides, it is not only ETHS students who avail themselves of all Boocoo Cultural Center has to offer.

  1. The process

    How wonderful! Yet another group determined to save Boocoo Cultural Center and bring attention to the intersection of Dodge and Church. It's so inspiring!

    Here are some interesting facts gleaned from the article above and BE Evanston's facebook page:

    1. There are 290 members of BE Evanston on their closed facebook group with most having been added about 3 months ago.

    2. Of those 290 members are listed the Mayor of Evanston and Senator Schoenberg.

    3. Of the 290 members are many notable Evanston business owners, District 65 employees, School Board members, Northwestern Professors and/or employees, etc.

    4. Although BE Evanston is seeking "additional board members" there is not a list of their current board members on their facebook page and no search results list a separate website for this organization.

    5. No one from the organization has reached out to Alderman Holmes to discuss Boocoo Cultural Center's financial straits, and that's understandable, but has there been any contact between BE Evanston and Alderman Holmes about BE Evanston's mission to save Boocoo Cultural Center.

    I think most Evanston dwellers would rejoice in someone, anyone really, being willing to take up the challenge to affect change at this intersection, and therefore the neighboring areas, especially when so much violence happens here. But, it would seem prudent to have discussions with the Alderman of the area, and perhaps her constituents (by attending a WEST meeting), as to what that change and affect will be. Maybe those talks have already been held, the article above doesn't specifically say that, nor does it not say it.

    I wish BE Evanston nothing but the best of luck in securing private funding to purchase the Boocoo Cultural Center's property from the ever ellusive Daniel Cheifetz and continuing to meet the needs of many who do see promise at Boocoo Cultural Center as well as on the west side of Evanston.


  2. Let Boocoo run its course

    Good luck but it looks like a lost cause and a money pit with all the back taxes and unpaid bills. If the majority of the BE Evanston board members were from the neighborhood then maybe. I don't think there is much concern about Boocoo from folks living in the Fifth Ward.

    Daniel Cheifetz is probably giving up on Boocoo. Last year it was reported that he was behind in his taxes on land he owned at 1801 Church, on the same block of Boocoo. Another developer paid the back taxes and the city announced it wanted to buy the land. Not sure what happened.

    Two years ago there was a fundraiser that the mayor attended to help Boocoo stay alive. And here we are.

    Boocoo is in a TIF and I sure would be angered as a taxpayer if city officials get it in their pretty little progressive heads to bailout Boocoo with our tax dollars. 

    Let Boocoo runs it course.

  3. Fresh energy needed

    I wish there was a way to save it and get more involved. I do not have 15k but would love to help revive it & the surrounding area. It is a needed place for ETHS students & community members alike.

    I do not know wht Daniel's MO is however I think there needs to be some fresh energy and blood and passion to keep that place up and alive.

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