A long-time Evanston institution, the Methodist Pension Board, plans to leave the city for a new headquarters site in Glenview.

Pension Board HQ

The pension board headquarters, built in 1961.

Evanston City Manager Julia Carroll announced at tonight’s Civic Center Committee meeting that she’s received notification from the board that it has dropped plans to rebuild its existing headquarters building on the southwest corner of Ridge Avenue and Davis Street.

She said the group, formally known as the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church, has acquired a 25 acre parcel in Glenview as its new headquarters.

The move means a loss of an estimated 300 jobs in the city. 

Ms. Carroll said the church group had been unable to find a solution to provide all the parking it wanted to have as part of the redevelopment project in Evanston. 

Eleven months ago architects for the board unveiled plans for the proposed new headquarters building in Evanston, but the proposal was never reached the city’s Plan Commission for review.

Alexandar Park

The south side of the pension building borders the city’s Alexander Park.

The project originally was scheduled to be heard by the commission in February, but after at least two postponements was withdrawn by the board early this summer.

At the Civic Center Committee meeting tonight, aldermen asked Ms. Carroll to explore with pension board officials whether they would be interested in negotiating a sale of the property to the city as a possible site for a new Civic Center.

The Methodist group also owns the former Rotary International building across the street on the northwest corner of Ridge and Davis, and both buildings are expected to go on the market as a result of the board’s planned move to Glenview.

Old Rotary building

The Ridge Avenue facade of the former Rotary International building.

The board has gradually reduced its employee count in recent years as the number of clergy and other church workers has decreased.

Update 9/26/07: In a news release issued this morning, Colette Nies, the pension board’s communication manager, said the Glenview site fronts on Chestnut Avenue and is bordered by the Metra rail tracks on the west and the Tall Trees residential development on the east.

Proximity to mass transportation and access to restaurants and other amenities were important considerations in selecting the site, Ms. Nies said, along with the desire for a natural setting conducive to healthy living.

She said the property is currently under contract and that the board hopes to begin construction in 2008 after receiving regulatory approvals, with occupancy expected about 18 months later.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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