A company controlled by billionaire Jennifer Pritzker has acquired vacant buildings at 1911-17 Church St. in Evanston with plans to turn them into a learning center for youths.

The buildings, across from Evanston Township High School, were formerly home to the Evanston Carpet and Cleaning Co. They’ve been vacant for a decade or more after being acquired by entities controlled by developer Daniel Cheifetz.

In 2006 Cheifetz unveiled plans for a retail and office complex on the site, but that project never got off the ground.

Pritzker’s Project Beacon LLC acquired the buildings and two vacant lots to the east from Cheifetz in September for a total of $422,500, according to county property records.

In a news release provided to the Evanston Review, a Pritzker spokesman said the buildings would serve as “a modern learning center that will encourage local students to explore different creative outlets and activities to express themselves while improving their skills and talents.”

An Evanston resident, Pritzker’s Tawani Enterprises has been involved in redeveloping a number of properties in Evanston and in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood.

She recently won approval for two bed and breakfast projects near the Evanston lakefront but suffered a setback earlier this year when the City Council rejected her proposal to turn the Harley Clarke mansion on the lakefront into a boutique hotel.

Cheifetz owns the Boocoo Cultural Center a block to the east on Church Street.

Top: 1911-17 Church St. in an image from Google Maps.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Bless you, Jennifer

    Thank you for doing something positive for the area around ETHS. It is much appreciated. 

  2. That’s great!

    That's great news.  I hope it is successful and not plagued by financial difficulties like Boocoo has been.

  3. Thank you, Ms. Pritzker

    This is a wonderful idea.  A youth learning center based in the ETHS neighborhood has much potential to benefit our youth who need a safe place to go and to learn outside of school. It ties in perfectly with the community-school concept that is being piloted at Chute.  We're lucky to have someone like Ms. Pritzker in our community, who has not only the means but the desire to do good. I hope this project has the community's support and is fully realized to its potential.  

  4. Wonderful!

    Of all the development news reported this year, this was the best.  What a terrific idea and a true commitment to the community.  Kudos, Ms. Pritzker.

  5. Was kind of hoping for an EPD sub station

    Was kind of hoping for an EPD sub station right there, but I'll take anything positive and support it.

    1. Neighbors don’t even want a safe zone

      Neighbors in the area around ETHS think all is good.  They don't even want city to put in a Safe Zone.

  6. I hope in that in the process

    I hope in that in the process of developing this youth learning center, the developers will consult with those in the community that serve youth and the youth themselves, particularly those that live near ETHS, so that this is a successful venture. Also, hopefully there will be provision for staffing and long term funding as well.  

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