Evanston’s Harley Clarke Committee voted Wednesday night to seek five people to present alternative ideas for the mansion’s future at a workshop meeting to be held May 18.

Committee Chair Steve Hagerty suggested the approach in which advocates for the different options would be invited to nominate themselves to make a 10-minute presentation on one of options the committee has identified.

All the options call for retaining city ownership of the beach adjoining the mansion.

Two call for the city to continue to own the mansion site and either:

  • Renovate the building for some to-be-determined use, or
  • Demolish the building and redevelop the site as park land.

The other three options call for the city to sell the mansion property, either to be:

  • Renovated for commercial use, likely as a boutique hotel and event space,
  • Redeveloped with R-1 zoning for residential or other permitted uses, or 
  • Renovated and maintained by some philanthropic entity.

Given the state’s lack of interest in pursuing the concept of housing its Coastal Management Program at the mansion, the committee dropped that option from its list.

Committee members Linda Damashek and Dawn Davis-Zeinemann.

Under the schedule developed by the committee, would-be presenters will have until Friday, May 8, to submit a one-page statement summarizing their arguments in favor of the particular option and their qualifications to present the case to the committee’s email address,

The committee plans to meet on Tuesday morning, May 12, to select presenters, who would then have just under a week to prepare their presentation ahead of the workshop, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Monday, May 18, in the Parasol Room at the Civic Center.

Following the presentations, attendees at the workshop would be invited to provide their feedback on each option at tables set up with displays representing each option.

After the workshop, the committee plans to prepare a final report on the mansion options for presentation to the City Council at its June 8 meeting.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Mansion presenters

    If the mansion committee can't resolve this issue, why are these individuals on the committee?

  2. Train Wreck

    And it continues… 5 more opinions, 5 advocates… 5 community organizers… Someone needs to approach Pritzker directly about returning to the table and their plans. Someone needs to hold the City of Evanston, and the Evanston Arts Center accountable for this train wreck. Sad state of affairs. Just sad.

    1. And it will keep ‘Going On’

      The Council will keep 'studying' the issue until they hear what "they" want. It seems they have made up their mind and keep hoping ever one will eventually agree, get worn out or forget about it. Have they ever done a survey [or it would have been better a Referendum] on what the city residents want–not just those in the neighborhood who we know are NIMBY and perpetual 'preservationist' who thinks the status quo is always the best—if built before 1970 it must be a historical monument and not to be questioned. I think most residents [taxpayers] are sick of the these groups wanting to keep everything as it is[was] and bleeding the taxpayers with their 'arts' and preservations du jour [and yet they keep adding to the list]. While it seems a bit far from downtown [though not NU] for a hotel, remember the Central St. group considered putting a hotel on the NU stadium parking lot—or at least the Consultants who they paid $$$ proposed. Keep the beach, the current park [though I can't see why anyone would go there instead of other parks] and let a developer put up a hotel—and actually do something for the city budget other than increase taxes.

  3. Why are they limiting themselves to R1?
    What is the rationale for limiting the private residential plan to R1?

    If the city is REALLY concerned about affordable housing, they should open it up to a high-rise, multi-family option. It is ripe for more efficient development. After all, it is 1/2 mile from a CTA station and one of the city’s largest employers. A 25 story rental property with 15% of the units held at affordable rates seems reasonable.

    1. tower on the lakefront

      " A 25 story rental property with 15% of the units held at affordable rates seems reasonable." That's right , Joe. But the NIMBYs in that area are opposed to ANY housing that is not R1. "Zoning continuity…blah blah blah" Anyone who opposed Pritzker on the grounds of "opposing selling public land" had better show the same opposition to selling our precious lakefront land for private R1 housing. I expect them all to pack the council meetings, and cover their lawns with signs.

      1. Like many times in the past,

        Like many times in the past, the city has bought and sold private land. Why is the mansion any different. The mansion is not part of the park. It was bought nearly 40 years ago and leased to the EAC. Never mind that the EAC never met its commitments to the city. If the city sells the mansion and its land, Evanston will be better off.

  4. R1

    Even with restrictions that maintain public access to beaches and dunes and prevent subdivision, the mansion alone could potentially bring in millions for Evanston as a single-family residence.  Lake views on three sides, a lighthouse view on the fourth, downtown Evanston, Northwestern, CTA and Metra all nearby… few properties on the North Shore can approach it and none can match it.  So, why talk about subdivision or demolition? 

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