Negotiations for the Good to Go Jamaican restaurant to move across Howard Street into the former Evanston police outpost site have collapsed in a dispute over ownership and funding.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz will ask the Economic Development Committee on Wednesday to have him seek new proposals for leasing the city-owned building at 633 Howard.

In a memo to the committee, Bobkiewicz says Good to Go’s owners wanted the city to spend $150,000 to build out the space as a restaurant, also pay for a new roof-top deck and sign an agreement that would let them purchase the building in the future.

The city spent six-figure sums to help establish the first two dining spots in city-owned buildings on Howard — Ward Eight and Peckish Pig — and signed lease-to-own agreements with the restaurant operators.

But in seeking the new use for the outpost, the city had said its financial participation would be more limited than for the first two projects — and could come in the form of free or reduced rent.

It also specified in the request for proposals that it preferred a business that would replicate an existing concept or create a new one — not a proposal, like Good to Go’s, that would relocate an existing restaurant from elsewhere.

However, the city’s RFP had indicated it would consider a lease-to-own agreement for the building — something city staff backed away from in a June letter to Good to Go owner Lenice Levy — which said the city would consider only a simple lease of the building.

Bobkiewicz says Levy responded that she was only interested in a deal that would give her the opportunity to own the property.

In his memo to the committee, Bobkiewicz says, “While Howard Street has enjoyed recent success, challenges remain. Therefore, selling the property at this time is premature.”

Related stories

It’s ‘Good to Go’ for police outpost after all (6/23/16)

Action postponed on outpost lease (5/10/16)

Theater trumps restaurant plan at outpost site (4/29/16)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Howard Street again

    The city has created these expectations by funneling taxpayer money into favored businesses and wards. Howard street development only runs wth Alderman Rainey's blessing. I think the theatre district on Howard concept will never go away and the Levy's can't win.

    1. Evanston the city of the “easy touch”
      Businesses have realized that the Council would approve almost anything and dole out whatever money they want.
      Here is another example of a business wanting to put the “touch” on the Council.
      If they label something “arts”, “community service”, “provide jobs”, “keep youth out of jail” or just, though not stated so the public would know, “Democrat approved project” [wink, wink, nudge, nudge], sooner or later they will get what they want.

      1. Financial assistance data

        Does anyone have a list of every business that has asked for financial assistance from the city, and of the finincial assistance eventually granted or denied? I think it might be helpful to have that as context.

    2. Funny money

      The city offered money to Dave of Dave Italian kitchen after his company abruptly closed by his own omission a victim of poor management, paid for the parking lot for trader joes against the wishes of competitors, and funded several other ventures including Peckish Pig.

      The reality is that "Good To Go" is as popular as you get on Howard with a track record of financial success other wise you don't last as long as they have.

      They originally wanted to buy the building but the FOM friends of the mayor fought it and then was burned by the company they offered special accommodations. The owners now want the same deal as their competitor and guess what I say good for them ….but it shines a bad light on Evanston, and shows that institutional racism is alive and well in Alderman Rainey ward and others.

      1. We lost 100s of thousands of

        We lost 100s of thousands of dollars on Chicken and Waffles and Davis Transportation both owned by African Americans. We are an equal opportunity community when it comes to bad business deals.

    3. Will we have have fair government

      How are COE offer support (including COE staff building the deck for pecish pig) but decline to offer assistance to another owner? 
      Why is it NOT a good time to sell a bldg? Given the amount of money the council has lost of other business deals, we are rejecting an offer to sale a property??

      I hope someone is running against Ann soon

  2. Sell the building

    The city should not be in the leasing business. Private property should be returned to the private sector as soon as possible. Return it and make it a tax producer, not a tax burden to Evanston taxpayers.

    It sounds like the city wants to reserve this property with a special prefered person.

    How much did the city dump into the Theater on Howard that nobody wants?

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