An image from the AECOM proposal of their St. Petersburg, Florida, police headquarters project, completed in 2019.

Evanston’s City Council tonight is scheduled to approve a $367,000 contract to study the feasibility of building a new civic center and police and fire headquarters somewhere in or near downtown.

City staff is recommending that the contract be awarded to global engineering firm AECOM, which will subcontract portions of the work to Evanston based Teska Associates and the Chicago-based minority-owned firm Infrastructure Engineering, Inc.

Update 10/26/21: City Council members voted 5-4 Monday night to approved the contract. More details in our City Council Recap.

In a memo to the Council, City Engineer Lara Biggs says cost estimates for urgently needed HVAC, electrical, security and other improvements at the Civic Center exceed $23 million and that the police/fire building needs an estimated $5.5 million in repairs.

She adds that the Civic Center has an inefficient layout and that the current 120,000 square foot building could likely be replaced with a 70,000 square foot one and still be sufficient for the city’s needs.

As described in the memo, the planned study would:

  • Assess space needs for a consolidated facility, including design recommendations in response to the pandemic.
  • Identify potential public-private partnership parties that might co-locate in a new development.
  • Identify and evaluate potential relocation sites.
  • Estimate costs for the project and potential cost savings from service consolidation.
  • Evaluate potential added community value created by co-locating with “private institutional, educational, commercial and/or affordable housing uses”.
  • Estimate possible economic benefits of a new facility and its potential to serve as a catalyst for downtown stability and growth.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.