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Group pushes rescue effort for Boocoo

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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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