harley-clarke-facts-website

Jennifer Pritzker’s Tawani Enterprises today unveiled a website providing details of Pritzker’s rejected proposal to redevelop Evanston’s lakefront Harley Clarke mansion as a 57-room boutique hotel.

The website, at HarleyClarkeFacts.com, contends that aldermen passed up the opportunity to create 54 new jobs and generate $5.1 million a year in economic impact including over a half million a year in new tax revenue by rejecting the proposal amid a storm of objections to it from neighbors.

It includes copy of a consultant’s report used to reach those economic impact conclusions.

The site proclaims that Pritzker no longer has any “intention of pursuing this project now or in the future” but says that details of the proposal and information developed in preparing it could be helpful to Evanston residents “in considering your options for future use of this municipal landmark estate.”

The site includes copies of several engineering studies and test reports for radon, asbestos and lead conducted as part of preparing Pritzker’s proposal.

It also provides details of Pritzker’s proposal for the site — which it says would have involved spending $22 million to restore and expand the property after purchasing it for a proposed $1.2 million from the city.

It says the plan would have provided improved public access to the beach — which would have remained under city ownership.

It also suggests that it likely will be very expensive to renovate the property for any new use.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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40 Comments

  1. No Taxpayer Money

    Sorry, but this is Evanston. We don't like any business proposals that aren't funded with taxpayer money.

  2. Harley-Clarke Use

    Lighthouse Beach and its surrounding area is a PUBLIC treasure. B&Bs and Hotels are needed. I stay in them sometimes.

    But, isn't a "Coastal Education Center" a MUCH MUCH better alternative for everyone.

    Keep it public!

    Linda

    1. Keep it public?

      "But, isn't a "Coastal Education Center" a MUCH MUCH better alternative for everyone.

      Keep it public!"

      How is a 'Coastal Education Center' better for everyone?

      • Is it better for taxpayers?
      • Is it better for people who want a place to stay overnight while visiting Evanston?
      • Is it better for people looking for a nice restaurant?

      Will anybody actually use a 'Coastal Education Center', or will it just be a giant empty mausoleum, like the Evanston History Society's Dawes Mansion?

      Since the local NIMBYs generally oppose anything that will bring people to the neighborhood, I suspect that they are willing to support an 'Education Center' because they know it will be underused.

      1. Preserving the coast is essential work

        The Coastal Management Program does essential work that helps preserve our environment, improve public health, improve our state's economy, and enhance quality of life.

        They engage in important restoration and management activities that deal with pressing problems such as water quality, biotoxins, invasive species, and erosion.

        Evanston (and Illinois) is nothing without the lake.  It is essential that it is not destroyed or you are talking about more public costs being incurred and higher taxes and fees for environmental cleanup.

        If people like Enquiring Minds don't understand the importance of managing our most precious environmental resource, then it seems that an education center is  very important.

        Managing the lake for the public good should trump the whims of a billionaire's real estate development hobby.

  3. City officials should feel neck deep in shame

    Seeing this, the city council, mayor, and city manager should feel neck deep in shame. Turning down the best deal that Evanston has seen in 20 years All over being afraid of a very vocal minority with yard signs. I know that Pritzker has said that he is no longer interested, but I think he released this information to stir the pot. Madam Tisdahl, you are always saying you want to do the best for Evanston. Here is your chance to do good. Go to Pritzker and do whatever it takes to bring him back to the table, including begging. Remember, it is for the good of all of Evanston people, not just a select few. You may just restore fiscal sanity to Evanston.

    1. Exactly. Evanston has made a

      Exactly. Evanston has made a very major mistake. And why? Resentment? Envy? Did you see the photos on Tawani's website? That place is a dump, and getting worse with every passing year. You'll be damned lucky if La Belle Pritzker changes her mind, but don't hold your breath. You know the adage: "A man sometimes wins an argument, but a woman always wins a silence."

      1. Stick to facts, not stereotypes

        Which is more dumb – the comment stereotypically attributing characteristics to men versus women – or the writer, who is ignorant of the fact that Pritzker wins under either analysis?  I say Hooray for Jennifer Pritzker for coming out and opening minds, as well as her own pocketbook, over a wide range of development projects that preserve past structures for good uses in the new millennium. Evanston resident should quit whining and thank their lucky stars it has a property attracting such a generous and civic-minded project. See a Tribune profile.

  4. I think Pritzker really wants the lakefront mansion

    Pritzker's plan would NOT have improved public access but actually impede it. If you look at the plan, the proposed hotel would take up most of the grounds to the west and north of the mansion. Pritzker brags that there would be handicap ramps and better access to the beach. Well, the beach has a ramp and good access right now, thank you very much.

    But even worse, Pritzker made a low ball offer – half of what the property had been appraised. It was insulting and alarming that our city aldermen continued negotiations. 

    I do not believe for a New York minute that Pritzker doesn't have his eye on this mansion. He just bought a building on Church Street and says he plans to turn it into a youth education center. I think he did it to gain public sympathy and support. It's just a guess. But timing is everything.

    Pritzker gave campaign money to politically connected Democrat 6th Ward Aldermen Mark Tendam AFTER the election and while he had pending zoning requests and was involved in ongoing negotitations for the mansion. Pritzker also gave $13,500 to Ed Tivador in August AFTER he lost the 1st Alderman race to Judy Fiske. It appears Tivador is building his war chest for another challenge. Tivador spent $18,968.93 in the race but his campaign's debt was only a $700 loan he had made. One of those things that make you go hmmmm? 

    Consider also that Democrat State Sen. Jeff Schoenberg decided not to run for another term but to step down in order to work full-time as an advisor for…wait for it…J.B. and M.K. Pritzker and their family philanthropy initiatives. Schoenberg conveniently announced his retirement two weeks before the deadline to file for the senate seat, which provided little time for someone else to raise capital, support and file. Except Democrat Daniel Biss was ready and he filed in time and weeks later was endorsed by Schoenberg. See how that works in the land of one-party politics? I know this is not directly related to the mansion but it is a snapshot of how the powerfully connected operate. Jennifer Pritzker and Tawani Enterprises rub elbows in this crowd – the one percenters.

    The Lighthouse Beach is the best beach in Evanston. If Pritzker's plan goes through most of the beach would have the hotel behind it.

    The beach and the mansion is prime real estate and belongs to Evanstonians. I don't mind a restaurant in the current building but adding another building with 57 hotel rooms and a huge undergound parking changes the entire dynamic of Evanston's best beach.

    This is not going away. I am convinced Pritzker has his eye on the prize. What angers me is one week after a newpsaper filed an FOIA for the minutes of a meeting about Pritzker's offer, those minutes were destroyed and thus not released.  That makes me suspicious the powers that be want Pritzker to buy the mansion and use the land for HIS benefit.

    If there is one issue to vote out all the incumbents this would be it because Pritzker, a billionnaire whose Democrat cousin is the U.S. Commerce Secretary, is not going away. Pritzker is in a way like old man Potter – he's got the money and is likely pulling strings to influence and scheme for this once in a lifetime primo piece of real estate. 

    I'd love to know who is Evanston's George Bailey.

    1. Colonel Pritzker does support

      Colonel Pritzker does support certain Democrats but she's actually a Republican.

      1. I don’t oppose Pritzker just his expansion plan

        True, J. Pritzker has supported Republicans and seems like a very interesting dynamic person. I am OK with Pritzker's other projects, including the restoration of vintage buildings. I respect and salute the fact Pritzker has served in our military. I don't like the proposed hotel plan and am weary of Pritzker's power and influence. I oppose the plan not Pritzker. If Pritzker rehabs just the existing building into a hotel, restaurant or whatever I'm good with it and wouldn't be opposed to a purchase of the building. But the expansion plan is too much and ruins the best beach in town. The shelter, open field to the north and west of the mansion and playground should stay open to the public.

    2. Reply to Al

      I am always amazed at people who think they know the intentions of people that are well known. Al, you are incorrect on every point!

      Dd it ever occur to you that there are people who have good intentions and just want to share their expensive  research for the better of the community?  

      Envy is a ugly thing!

      1. You’re entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts

        So according to you, Pritzker's intentions was to provide the public the 57 room hotel plan for the best interests of Evanstonians. A plan Pritzker claims she no longers wants to pursue. A plan that would take up most of the property around the mansion grounds to benefit all of us, of course.. 

        What were Pritzker's motivation for this website that had sketchy details and a hard-to-read map? To inform the city how much work the mansion needs? Because I am sure Pritzker only wanted to build the 57 room hotel with hundreds of new parking spaces for the benefit and pleasure of all Evanstonians. And Pritzker's bid, even though much lower than a recent appraisal, was for Evanston's best interest. Maybe  Pritzker doesn't want to buy the mansion, who knows, but why the website? Where was the website when the offer was made?  

        I am sure Pritzker's campaign donation to 6th Ward Alderman Mark Tendam after Tendam won the election and while Pritzker's company had two pending zoning requests were done for the good intentions of Evanston. Don't forget the $13,500 given to 1st Ward Alderman candidate Ed Tivador after he lost the election. All to benefit us "envious" folks, no less.

        Perhaps the mayor can give Pritzker the key to the city for all her good intentions. Maybe Evanston can declare Jennifer Pritzker day. I might sound a bit snappy and overly sarcastic but the above post is alarming as it is plain ridiculous.

        I am always amazed at how people ignore facts and demonize the person stating an opinion based on the facts. Sad. So sad.

         

  5. Needed clarification, but still questions……

    This certainly provides some needed clarification for the public about this project. What is still not clear to me is what happens to the open park space to the north of the mansion.  Given the tremendous resources of Col. Pritzker, I am wondering why she decided on the particular projects that have been proposed?  Has there been any sort of needs survey regarding the B&B's, the property across from ETHS, etc.  What would the impact be negative and positive, short term and long term? Who is consulted? What is the process? How will this impact upon our infrastructure? How does this fit into any overall plan for development in the city that will benefit everyone?  Do those of us who live in the city, but lack these resources have a voice?

  6. Why post this now?

    I find it disingenuous for Ms Pritzker to post the project at this time and then claim she has no intent in pursuing this project or site any more. For anyone to believe that there is not an underlying motive is ridiculous.

    Having failed to convince the Council and the citizenry that this massive and out-of-scale building tacked onto the original structure was worthy of being built, we now have this effort to stir the masses, once more, or to sway the council to reconsider, not only by posting a rendering that, ironically, demonstrates how a desire to make the scheme viable led to a building that would dwarf the original mansion, but also by providing income estimates that might be as fanciful as so many of the proposals our Council and City staff have recently bought into.

    Sadly, this latest effort also makes one doubt that the purchase of the building across from ETHS and that proposed youth project are not, in some way, linked to this latest web site unveiling.

  7. What a great plan!

    I do not understand why people in this town do not like change! This plan seems to be a very good one. If you actually go to the website, it looks like it has little impact on the park to the north and the beach. The only small drawback is that the parking lot is moved farther from the beach and closer to Sheridan Rd. But again, that is not a terrible situation. I feel that this project would have brought in great revenue for the city. What a shame that it was shot down! It is time to stop letting the "NIMBY's" run this city into the ground. These people have too much time on their hands!

  8. Leave our lakefront alone

    Sorry but money can't buy everything. We want to protect our lakefront. Do all you want south of Howard but leave our lakefront alone. Northwestern has done enough to ruin the landscape! 

  9. Missed opportunity

    The accusations of a lowball offer are not based in reality, the accusations that the beach and park would be closed or restricted are outright lies, the insistent accusations of insider dealing and former state senators involvment is so overblown it exists in the realm of consipiracy absurdity.  Yet this is what sways aldermanic decisions in Evanston.

    The idea that this proposal wasn't in the best interest of the citizens is ridiculous. The lakefront is for the use of citizens and thousands upon thousands of local citizens would have used this facility every year. How is a facility that would have been used by tens of thousands of people every year not be an asset to the public while the park and beach both remain open and free?

    The sky will fall people want a dead end use that will have virtaully zero visitors because that's their idea of "public" benefit.  An additional building in exchange for the removal of concrete surface parking lots underground is called a bad tradeoff.  

    Instead, empty, expensive to maintain buildings maybe visited by a few busloads of kids forced from their classrooms to justify part of the so called "education" centers existence is preferred.  What a waste, what a missed opportunity.  Shame on Evanston.     

  10. Harley Clarke hotel could work

    Initially I voiced my concerns about this hotel project and even requested a yard sign.  However, after seeing these pictures and reconsidering other aspects of the project I have changed my mind.  First of all, having stayed in historic homes on the east coast and in chateaux and manoirs converted into tasteful boutique hotels in Europe, I truly appreciate the way these businesses can actually help to restore and preserve historic properties and ensure that they remain a part of the community.

    I don't see why a compromise couldn't be made regarding the public access to the beach and property.  Who cares if there is a hotel–whose style matches the current, enormous mansion already there–separating me from my view of Sheridan Road? As long as the beach remains public and there is still adequate green space, I don't see what the problem is.   If Ms. Pritzker invests the money in restoring the architectural details both on the interior and exterior of the mansion, then she would actually be working to restore part of our comunity's heritage.

    So– I have changed my mind and I hope that Evanston can see the wisdom of restoring not only a historic building, but a large piece of income-generating property, to our tax rolls.

  11. Knock off the nastiness

    Small wonder Evanston can't get private capital to invest in new development.  Listen to yourselves. Your comments suggest a thoroughly nasty populace. (I hope some of the regular folks in Evanston post here to refute the image this Harley Clarke topic perpetuates for Evanston.)

    Those of you who wish to demonize Pritzker have to deal with following inconvenient facts: Fact:  She spent capital and energy to generate a proposal in response to a City request.  Fact:  The proposal never was aired because it was smeared with allegations of all kinds that were entirely without logical foundation.  Fact:  The valuable work analyzing the site is put in the public domain.  Fact: Pritzker buys an unrelated property to be put into an educational use.  On those facts you want to draw the conclusion that Pritzker is a financial menace to Evanston.  Get real!

    The menace to Evanston’s economic well-being is the idea of letting the HC property be leased to the state – the state with no money to pay its bills.  

    1. The Lighthouse Beach does not need a huge hotel

      I think most folks who oppose this proposed huge addition to the mansion to convert it into a hotel is not out of "nastiness" but of genuine concern of publicly owned lakefront beach, park and property. No one is demonizing Pritzker

      FACT – every developer MUST provide details in a proposal. Sometimes, those proposals are shot down. That's the business, my friend.

      FACT – the proposal was "aired".

      No one has said Pritzker is a financial menance except you.

      Here is something so far no one has mentioned about Pritzker's beachfront hotel proposal. Lighthouse beachgoers will lose privacy as hotel guests will simply peer out their windows and gaze down at beachgoers. I don't think Evanstonians want out of towners in a hotel peering down at them and their children as they try and enjoy the beach. 

      Pritzker's beachfront hotel proposal is for the benefit of Pritzker not Evanstonians who want privacy, a park and a playground rather than hundreds of hotel guests driving or milling around on the Lighthouse property.

      We pay a good chunk of change in taxes and tokens to use the Lighthouse Beach. It's appalling to me that this monstrosity of a plan that calls for tripling the size of the existing building has supporters.

      The Lighthouse Beach, the best beach in town, is public property not Pritzker's property. 

      1. Nasty out of towners

        Of all the overblown and exagerated accusations, the conspiracy theories, this one tops em all. Those nasty out of towner hotel guest would be looking out their windows and see the good honest people of Evanston using the beach. Golly gee, those nasties might even walk down to the lake and even sunbath right next us. Lions and tigers and bears oh my! This is the best one yet. LOL.

      2. Peeping guests

        So Al, since you think hotel guests are there to peep at people through windows, I have to ask: Is that what you do when you stay in a hotel?

        You should get your alderperson to require all hotels in Evanston to replace the glass in the room windows with mirror glass. That way they will only see themselves when they try and look out.

  12. It’s a shame the plan was not pursued

    I think it's a shame that this plan was not pursued. And if the city thought the price was too low, why did they not begin efforts to negotiate?  I also don't know where the "limiting beach access" argument comes from??

    This is from the website mentioned above:

    WAS THERE EVER A PLAN TO LIMIT OR PROHIBIT ACCESS TO THE PUBLIC BEACH?
    No. If you look at our plan you will see that Tawani's property did not include Light House Beach. Our plan was to ENHANCE beach access for the public. The plan included 25 parking spaces at ground level for the exclusive use of the public and 200 parking spaces underground for use by hotel patrons and the public. Our plan did include access to the beach for hotel patrons, but NOT at the exclusion of the public.

    The plan did include a drop off area at grade level with the beach for people to unload their belongings. Parents and others would no longer have to struggle shepherding children to the beach while carrying coolers, umbrellas, towels, toys, etc. Our plan was to provide carts that could easily be wheeled to the beach on wide improved walkways. Additionally, one could safely walk from Lighthouse Beach and Lawson Park to their car without having to walk on any of the roadways which is currently not the case.

    The hotel would have included a restaurant open to beachgoers, and a place to purchase “to go” food and drinks, sunscreen, etc. and to rent beach umbrellas.

    The drawings include the addition of accessible public restrooms that would be open 24/7 365 days a week.

    I hope all of the above commenters take the time to read the full website. I think it is very generous of Col. Pritzker to make available all of the expert reports they had done regarding the condition of the building, which they state cost $100K.  If you look at the website under "FACTS" you can read for yourselves about the miserable state of the building.  I highly doubt that a state agency is going to have the money to sink into this property to bring it up to code, much less restore it. The City is certainly not interested in doing it.

    1. MrsSmith who are you? a paid consultant?

      MrsSmith – you stated    "Our plan was to provide carts that could easily be wheeled to the beach on wide improved walkways"    Our plan? it appears to me you are a paid consultant to the project?

      By the way MrsSmith, it appears to me the path that is on the drawings to the North is on lighthouse park land not city property please correct me if I am wrong. I did not think any of their property was up for sale.

      By the way since you are a consultant can you provide us with the concept drawings of the interior of the buildings? Since information was provided on the sq footage. If this is done, a deal, then I am OK with you not providing them.

      I see alot of posts on here, that support this, I have to wonder who they, you clearly have more of a interest in this than our tax dollars.

      You stated Ms Pritzker was generous in giving the city the reports, once the  reports are submitted  to the city they became public record.  Remember this is a public process not a private deal, the Mayor and Wally can wheel and deal all they want behind closed doors, but it  will all comes out,

      You and others can talk to the council members all you want, about Umbrellas and other items you want to rent, since I recently heard a council member make a statement about umberellas for rent as if it was a big deal, just keep on remembering this is  public process not a private deal everything will all come out in the end.

      There are alot of residents watching this, not a few neighbors, or Nimbys, the night this proposal was stopped, there were100's of residents there. ( 300 to 400 residents ) As you might know I go to council  on a regular basis, I saw many people there who I have never seen at a public meeting.

      There were not just a few people against this there were many many people, and if it returns I suspect the out cry will even be greater.

       

      1. Just to clarify, those weren

        Just to clarify, those weren't Mrs. Smith's words — "our plan" — but rather a quote pulled directly from Tawani's explanatory site. And I assure you that those of us who think it's a damned shame the plan was nixed are indeed worried about "our tax dollars." Every million Our Jen puts into preserving a place like this is a million we taxpayers don't have to cough up — or, knowing how governments operate, several tens of millions. Lord, what fools you NIMBYs be.

        1. Thanks, Vera. You are correct

          Thanks, Vera. You are correct. Those were not my words. I was quoting the website. I tried to make all that text in italics to indicate that, but only the 1st paragraph came out in italics. I also agree with you. Why not let someone else pay to fix the place up AND provide jobs? Again, I am wondering if a state agency is going to sink that kind of money into a dilapidated building. Are they also going to restore the Jens Jensen designed garden?

        2. NIMBY is a over used term – nor is it applicable

          You are suggesting I am a NIMBY – this is not an issue about "not in my backyard", it is about selling public lake front park land to a private individual or corporation. for their use.

          I have never stated Ms Prizkter does bad work, nor am I stating quality of the work on the project would be poorly done, I am stating our public lands are NOT for sale.

          I suspect we would both agree the city government is the real problem here, there are two units of government not running this entire site, adding a private user would create even more issues. There four parcel of park land here, two each own by separate owners the city and lighthouse park district.

          The 7th ward alderperson sits on a committee that meets to coordinate these units of government but appears to have done little if any thing, When I looked into this issue, I was quick to realize at the end of the day, the city has grossly misused this site,and not achieved the maximum benefit to the public but that does not justifying selling it to a private corporation.

          Wally and the children in the economic development department put this deal out, without any home work done which is par for the course.  Twani clearly in the end did all the home work for Wally, even today I doubt Wally will use any of it, given staff's screwed up memo on the problems they are telling the art center to fix..

          Let me be clear, this issue it not about "Our Jen" as you put it, I do not know her, it appears you do, it is about how screwed up our public officials are, and the fact they would even suggest they should be selling our lake front parks.

          What interesting Wally, and a few public officials here keep on pretending they are big wheelers and dealers, with our public dollars, I keep on asking them to tell me the profit of their 150 million dollar water utility,  Maybe Ms Priztker could buy that, but once the consultants would do the analysis, they would have to pay her to take it, since we Evanston water payers are subsidizing the other users and its losing millions!

           

      2. I think that you might be a

        I think that you might be a little high on your estimate of 300 – 400 people at the city council meeting. It was closer to 150 -200 which is still a lot for the city council meetings. I do not think that they were all against selling the mansion.

        Let's assume that you are right. All 400 that showed up and were against selling the mansion. Can we then assume that 70,000+ people who didn't show up at the council meeting were in favor of selling the mansion? I doubt that but I do think that if the question were presented to all of Evanston the majority would say sell it and give us some tax relief.

        I and (I believe) most of Evanston would not object to the people who are against selling the mansion started a pledge drive to raise money to save the mansion. It shouldn't be to hard with all the people you have for your back. That would be 350k – 450k to make it safe for people to occupy the building. Next it would probably be 2 – 3 million to fix everything else that isn't an immediate threat to peoples' lives.

        I can live with that, even though it will not be an economic boost to Evanston's financial mess.

        1. You think spending money on Harley clarke is bad?

          You did not go on the capital plan tour, two weeks end ago?

          Our public officials are proposing spending over $1.6 million dollars on fire station #2 – this year they want to remodel the current designer kitchen and redo the weight room in 2016, I suggest you go take a tour of this and tell us if we should be wasting over $1.6 million dollars! The kitchen needs minor work and the weight room was better than in most of our rec centers, its  joke.  City council I suspect will give them the funding. I think some fire fighters think this is their home not city property, that they can bring their girl friends, things are clearly out of control.  ( I think a story on the kitchen withy photos would be a good story to put up here on the site, it might get even more comments than Harley Clarke) – If Twani wants to buy a fire station I am OK with that idea!

          The staff also proposed spending $900,000 to fix up the fog houses at lighthouse beach, they need work there is no doubt, the city ecology programs uses them, so we want to spend this much money at the site but you are concerned about Harley Clarke- I think it could be done for less.

          I have mentioned the water tank a few times so I will not mention it again, another waste of taxpayer money.

          The water department during the capital meetings did not even present thier program that how messed up the city presentations are in regards to the budget.

          I suggest you take a good look at the entire mess of the capital program before you think those who want to keep our parks public land need to pay.

          Also the correction of any serious life-safety concerns that effect the day to day operation is the Art Center issue, not the city's or taxpayer's, Wally is making a mockery of the building department, since if the building has current life safety problems that can not be grandfather and pose a risk, it needs to be shut down right now! The council has extended the Art Center stay, far too long, they have now given them two extensions. Wally and the Mayor are playing politics with public safety.

          I would say there were closer to 400 people there the entire council chamber was full, the entire exterior area was full and there were two additional rooms with TVs in them for viewers, by no way a typical meeting – I have attend council meetings and budget sessions when there are four or five citizens! and if you  did go to council meeting  on the Twani proposal the council and mayor again broke the rules and went right to the meeting without citizens comment – and stopped the deal.

           

          1. Thanks for enlightening me on

            Thanks for enlightening me on the other spending issues. Sounds like Evanston is out of control, just like our government in Springfield and Washington DC, spending like drunken sailors.

            As far as the council meeting, I didn't know the other rooms were filled. No wonder most of the council, Wally, and Liz were too scared to continue discussing a very good deal for Evanston

  13. Enlarge the debate on Harley Clarke

    I think that it would be of value to the citizens  of our fair city to enlarge the debate over the future use of the Harley Clarke property by including Jennifer Pritzker's recent post.

     

     

  14. What about jobs ?

    The Council and other organizations support, use tax money, build, rehab housing for the poor/homeless and many citizens groups talk about poverty in itself and what effects it has on crime and education.

    But when it comes to supporting new business and Harley Clarke being made into a profit making business they [and I assume a large portion are upper middle class and above and the artsy people], then NO !

    If the city government and residents were serious about jobs, crime, homeless [and under-housing] and education, they would be behind ANY thing that is legal that would bring in jobs to better the welfare of the community.

    Will Evanston continue to speak out of both sides of its mouth? Of course.

  15. Perspective from an Evanston business owner and resident

    Evanston has a long history of being antagonistic to businesses of any kind. Everyone in the business community in the Chicago area knows to be wary — or avoid — doing business in Evanston.

    This is highly unfortunate as we face a crisis when it comes to paying our retired police officers, fire fighters, and other public servants who have earned and deserve a financially stable retirement. I met Mayor Tisdahl once, and she was actively antagonistic to me, even recognizing that I chose to locate my business in Evanston where I live.

    The Pritzkers are extremely reasonsible in their approach to real estate development — and frankly, Lighthouse Beach (where my kids have spent a good deal of time), could use better access and some improvements — all details that are negotiable during the real estate development process.

    The City should be focused on how to take advantage of interest from the Pritzkers — not how to chase them out of town. A potential win-win situation has devolved into a NIMBY battle. What a shame for the citizens — and retirees — of the City of Evanston.

    Every City Council member, and the mayor, should be ashamed that they did not look deeper into this issue, and figure out a way to make it a positive.  Perhaps — since the Pritzkers are obviously still interested — there is still a window of time for that to happen.

  16. Lets hope Ms Pritzker keeps her word

    Ms Pritzker states she has no more interest in this, we will see Monday night when Harley Clarke is up for discussion what happens. I have to wonder if some council member will bring this up again.

    The Mayor has support this proposal behind closed doors, the minutes showed that she stated she wanted more money, yet in public she claimed she wanted to protect the parkland.

    This is not about Nimbyism, this is a public park not a piece of commerical property for sale.

    If Ms Pritzker wants to buy a piece of land in downtown Evanston and build a hotel on it, I say go for it. Build a 200 unit hotel with a huge dining facility.

    Those of you should remember the Mayor did not want the Tilted Kilt here, due to her so called moral standards, so she stopped it. Yet she supports a social service agency whose client was arrested  for having a minor sell sex and beating her.  The Mayor talks out of both sides of her month and mostly saids nothing.

    I have been watching the city budget for years, those who think this deal is going to come close to fixing the corrupt mess at City hall are dreaming.   Hold on to your wallets, they are claiming they need to replace the water tank sitting on NU property, yet the consultant report stated just replace the top,  26 million dollars translates into a 20% water bill increase, on top of the 30% over the last few years, and they are not even fixing any more of the 100 year old  water pipe.  NU wants the tank moved Mr Stonebeck stated this clearly in the capital visit, the Mayor at the last city meeting stated out of the blue, they need to replace the tank.

    Ms Pritzker can build all the hotels she wants it will never fix the mess of the Mayor and the council continued misuse of our tax dollars for their friends and pet projects.

  17. That is exactly what vacation hotels have
    You said:
    “Here is something so far no one has mentioned about Pritzker’s beachfront hotel proposal. Lighthouse beachgoers will lose privacy as hotel guests will simply peer out their windows and gaze down at beachgoers. I don’t think Evanstonians want out of towners in a hotel peering down at them and their children as they try and enjoy the beach.”
    ==================

    I find this comment odd. If you go to Hawaii, Bahamas or many other vacation spots, that is exactly what you get—looking out on people on the beach, swimming, swimming pools, etc.
    I have to assume you are wealthy and can rent [own] your own island or at least secluded single occupant villa.

    1. So now Pritzker’s proposal is a vacation hotel

      The hotel beachfronts in Hawaii and the Bahamas you refer to are huge beaches for tourists and not so much for local residents (they go elsewhere). Are you suggesting that the Lighthouse Beach should be transformed into some huge beachfront for toursits? Do you think Pritzker's beachfront hotel would turn Evanston into a worldwide tourist destination?  I find your comparison of the Lighthouse Beach to beaches in the Bahamas and Hawaii really odd.

      I am confident most Evanstonians would be appalled if they knew the details of what Pritzker is proposing.

      I am not a one percenter or even a ten percenter. Just an overtaxed family man in Evanston that doesn't like some politically connected billionnaire coming to town, influencing city leaders for the purchase of a publicly owned lakefront mansion located on Evanston's best beach with the intention of using most of the public grounds to expand the building into a gargantuan beachfront hotel for the sole benefit of Tawani Enterprises. 

      1. J Pritzker Evanston resident

        AL  according to Google and Patch  J Pritzer is a Evanston Resident. Guess Ms. Pritzker comes or is here daily. I assume you oppose the City Expanding  the annual Festivals on the lake front. Perhaps your group needs to tell the council to stop them. Time for more yard Signs?

      2. The horror

        Nobody is proposing a huge beachfront hotel for tourists, more of your turning things into hyper exaggerations.  

        I think that response was in regard to you voicing as some kind of legitimate concern that someone not from Evanston, a nasty out of towner, might stand at a hotel window and look at Evanston people using the beach.

        The horror, the horror.  

  18. A lost opportunity

    To appreciate the opportunity that was lost here, let's consider what the situation would be like in reverse. That is, imagine we currently had the hotel in place, generating tax revenue, bringing guests to Evanston's businesses, and providing a restaurant for the public. Now, someone proposed to spend 1.2 million of public money to buy back to the hotel, take it off the tax rolls (losing another 0.5 million every year), close the restaurant and hotel, and hand the property over to the state of Illinois, which stopped paying its bills about ten years ago. Would anyone agree to such a proposal? 

    I understand that some people are opposed to private business near the beach under any circumstances, and they have every right to that opinion. What I find unacceptable, however, is to continue using arguments that are patently false (i.e. beach access). I also feel that the city council failed in their leadership by giving in to a vocal minority before the actual facts were presented, at a huge loss to the city both in terms of tax revenue and in terms of facilities near the beach.

    The proposal needs to be reconsidered now that all facts are on the table.

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