Evanston aldermen Monday are scheduled to approve a five-year lease of a city-owned storefront at 727 Howard St. to Hip Circle Empowerment Center.

The building at 727-729 Howard was acquired by the city in 2011 for $325,000 and at the time was partly occupied by a storefront church.

727-729 Howard St. in late 2010.

In 2013 aldermen rejected a plan to redevelop the property as a theater, after cost estimates for the projected reached nearly $1.7 million.

In 2016, a memo to aldermen says, the city solicited proposals to lease the property but only one proposals was submitted, and that prospective tenant opted not to move forward.

Hip Circle is proposing to lease just the 727 Howard portion of the building, and the memo, from Assistant City Manager Erika Storlie, says staff hopes that will help build interest in the adjoining 729 Howard space.

Hip Circle, an exercise and dance studio for women, was founded by Malik Turley as the for-profit Hip Circle Studio in 2010. She modified the name and converted it to non-profit status last year.

The Howard Street property would replace Hip Circle’s current storfront location at 709 Washington St.

The city plans to charge annual rent of $27,000 or $18 a square foot for the 1,500 square foot storefront.

It also plans to spend $50,000 toward tenant improvements for the project, with roughly half of that amount to be repaid by Hip Circle over the term of the lease with 3 percent interest.

Update 11:10 a.m. 4/24/18: The Hip Circle loan and lease were both given final approval on a 9-0 vote Monday night, with the rent rate adjusted to $15 per square foot. For 1,510 square feet of space, that works out to $22,650 a year.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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