The family that owns Lakeside Auto Rebuilders on Central Street wants the city to lift a zoning restriction that would require the business to close if it’s sold.

The business, at 3101 Central St., was established as a gas station in the 1920s, when the area was zoned for commercial use.

But in the 1940s the property was rezoned for residential use, and currently the land surrounding the site contains a mix of single-family and multi-family homes.

The business owners, Sarkis and Ani Tokat, live in one of those nearby homes, a two-flat at 3049 Central St.

When in 2019 the owners sought to expand the business, the city included a condition on that approval that barred continued operation after a sale.

At that time several neighbors reportedly testified that the business had been extremely well run and that they were in favor of its continued operation.

In a memo prepared for Wednesday’s Land Use Commission hearing on the issue, Zoning Administrator Melissa Klotz says city staff recommends that the restriction on sale be lifted.

She says that given that the site has been operated as a service station for close to a century, it is likely that the soil is contaminated and would require extensive environmental remediation.

That is extremely costly and often deters redevelopment, Klotz said, which means the site would likely sit vacant for years if the business closes.

Klotz suggests that the commission could recommend adding conditions regarding operational details to the variation to try to assure that a future owner maintained similar performance standards.

The LUC will make a recommendation to the City Council, which makes the final decision on the request.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. I agree that this business should have the restrictive ban if it were to be sold rescinded. Lakeside Auto and Sarkis and Ani Tokat maintain a neat lot and provide excellent auto body repair at reasonable prices. They are a convenient and definite asset to the area. Perhaps the addition to the current zoning that future owners maintain good standards, as the business currently adheres to, is not too limiting.

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