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Evanston’s Human Services Committee tonight is scheduled to vote on whether to seek formal requests for proposals for the sale of the city-owned Harley Clarke mansion on the lakefront.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz, in a memo to aldermen, says four parties submitted statements of interest in the property from more than 10 people who toured the building in response to a request for interest the city issued in May.

They are:

  • Col. James Pritzker, who last year received city approval to turn a home at 300 Church St. into a bed and breakfast. Pritzker proposes using the mansion as a boutique hotel and event center.
  • Carrie King of 508 Barton Ave., who proposes using it as an event center, hotel or bed and breakfast.
  • Tom Omundson of 900 N. Michigan Ave. in Chicago, who proposes using it as an inn.
  • Sarah Harding of 1024 Judson Ave., who proposes using the property as the home for a planned Montessori High School called The Beacon Academy.

Bobkiewicz is proposing that the aldermen set a deadline of Sept. 28 for submission of the proposals.

The city is considering selling or leasing the mansion building itself, but retaining ownership of the underlying property and surrounding land.

The mansion is now leased the the Evanston Art Center, which is looking for new quarters in the city.

The property is believed to have at least several hundred thousand dollars worth of deferred maintenance issues, and the aldermen have concluded the city doesn’t have the resources to pay for the work.

Related document

Human Service Committee meeting packet

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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8 Comments

  1. Evanston shouldn’t sell off its gem

    The Hadley-Clarke Mansion (Mansion at Lighthouse Beach) is one of the few Gems of Evanston.   Sorry for the harsh accusation here – but only a foolish council would allow the sale of that  property.  Selling it would be like selling a kidney.   It was donated to Evanston to benefit it's residents.  The $8M,  $10 Million or whatever the Mansion  sells for will be gone and spent in a day.  You know it.

    Please be smart….Lease it for 10 years (for example).  Don't sell it.  

    Hotel, Banquet Hall, Restaurants, Art Centers….all sound great.  Don't sell it.

    There is so much opportunity for that mansion.   The current bidders will pay a lot of money to fix it up and get just a 10-15 year lease (even if they negotiate like they won't)  –  it has  potential to generate a wonderful revenue if planned correctly.  It's one of the nicest properties in Evanston……in the whole country.   Don't sell it Evanston.  

    Wilmette would never sell it, but Skokie would.   Don't sell it Evanston (and City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz)……this is your good sense talking.

    1. One of Evanston’s few gems

      The Hadley-Clarke Mansion (Mansion at Lighthouse Beach) is one of the few Gems of Evanston.   Sorry for the harsh accusation here – but only a foolish council would allow the sale of that  property.  Selling it would be like selling a kidney.   It was donated to Evanston to benefit it's residents.  The $8M,  $10 Million or whatever the Mansion  sells for will be gone and spent in a day.  You know it.

      This sounds so familiar..kind of like the   Dawes White Elephant McMansion. 

      It was 'donated to Evanston to benefit its residents' ?  Well, eating up a lot of taxpayer money in operating costs is not what I consider a 'benefit'.    Selling it for some cash is a benefit.  Turning it into something like an inn would be a benefit too.  There should be a restaurant or cafe  or IHOP there too, so it won't just be out of towners using it.

      Any of the first three ideas sound good…a hotel or inn on the lake would be nice, and generate tax revenue.  ( I predict NIMBY opposition:  where will all of those inn-goers park?  what about traffic? blah blah blah) . I don't like the idea of a nonprofit, non taxpaying school on the site.

      I'd say that Col. Pritzker outranks Generalissimo Chuckie Dawes on this issue…let him or one of the other candidates buy the property.

       

    2. Absolutely agree.  Selling

      Absolutely agree.  Selling the property is nothing but a short sighted plan and is demonstrative of the general outlook by the Council.  Sure we're in rough economic times, but no where CLOSE to the point where we should simply be selling off assets.  We should be focusing on long term improvements to continue to attract families and individuals who can help to pay for services.  Additionally, getting rid of this property to a private owner will cause all sorts of problems down the road as it's smack dab in between two pieces of public property.

      In any case, I think it's time for residents who actually care about long term investment to start to get themselves more organized as a group.  It's clear the City Council needs some support in making quality decisions and as elections in this town can be swung with a few thousand votes, I'd think the message would be crystal clear to folks.

      And to those who think arts space is just unneccessary government bloat, I'd like you to think about the actor on your favorite tv show, muscian in your favorite band or even the guy who draws those cartoons you like.  Believe it or not, the vast majority of professional artists have taken advantage of public art programs like EAC.  Think outside the box.  Money is a faliacy, real life isn't.

      Also, I'd like to ask a straightforward question to EAC staff if any are reading.  Why are all your classes in the middle of the day?  My wife and I (28-30) want to take classes together but work. I bet you'd find a TON of people in the same boat.  This catastrophe could have been avoided if they adjusted their schedules, made more cash and contributed to the upkeep.

  2. Hire a new consultant

    The City needs to hire a firm other than US Equities to advise on options for the mansion.   Highest and best use should guide the process.  The building sits on property with several separate and distinct owners.  It will be a very complicated process and it will require a great deal of City time to execute a transaction.  Based on these reasons, the City cannot afford to own and operate the property. 

    The following uses would be eliminated as a potential use:
     

    1.  a private elementary or secondary school
    2.  a governmental use
     

  3. Sell it

    Outstanding,  Sell it and sell to someone who will remove this underused, unmaintaned burden from the taxpayer, renovate and preserve the property, put it to a real and effective use and place it back onto the tax rolls. 

    Sounds like the first three proposals have the right idea, forget the school unless they will pay full taxes on the property.

  4. Sounds like a better use

    A McDonalds would be a much better use.  But then almost anything would be a better use.

    Those wanting to preserve everything as historic, including NU Foster-Walker, had been come into the 21st century and realize this city has a lot of problems and we can't keep maintaining these antiques.  Sell them to the highest bidder and be done with them.

  5. Why Dawes?

    What is the beef with the Dawes Mansion?

    It was owned by Northwestern until they needed to put big money into repairs, so they sold it to the Evanston History Center who had been "renting" space.  The city does not own any part of the the Dawes House. 

    The History Center is doing great work, providing a resource to the community while operating on a shoe-string, non-city-subsidized budget.  

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