A revision to the proposed lease of the city-owned Harley Clarke mansion will require the non-profit Evanston Lakehouse and Gardens group to step up its fundraising performance to hang onto the property.

The original version of the lease, introduced at the March 12 City Council meeting, only required the group to raise $2 million within three years of gaining access to the property, although it’s been estimated that a full renovation of the mansion will cost at least $5 million.

Some aldermen and the mayor raised doubts at that meeting about whether the additional renovations would ever be done if there wasn’t a requirement that the additional funds be raised.

The revised lease, scheduled for action at Monday’s Council meeting, keeps the three year fundraising benchmark, but adds a requirement that the group must raise $5 million within 10 years after signing the lease.

In the group’s original responsen last November to the city’s request for proposals for the mansion, Evanston Lakehouse and Gardens projected that it would have $1.675 million in donations and gifts this year,  $3.185 million next year and $1.1 million the following year, for a total of nearly $6 million in three years — more than it’s now promising to raise in 10 years.

Both versions of the lease also set fundraising benchmarks of $250,000 for year one and $500,000 for year two of the agreement.

Under terms of the agreement, if any of the fundrasing benchmarks weren’t met, the city would have the option of canceling the group’s 40-year lease.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz, in a memo outlining the lease agreement, says city staff now estimate that the city would spend about $15,000 a year on building maintenance during the first five years of the lease term, but says that estimate doesn’t include a provision for “unforeseen incidents or mechanical equipment failure.”

By the end of five years, the lease anticipates that the lakehouse group would have completed the $2 million in initial renovation work to make the property meet city codes.

The additional $3 million is needed to renovate the coash house and additional portions of the main building not rehabbed in the first phase

While the lease sets a deadline for completing the first phase work, it does not set a deadline for completing the second renovation phase.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Hazards

    The mansion has been neglected for years and will require asbestos and lead based paint abatement every step of the way as the building is slowly rehabbed. Electrical and other fire hazards also make it unsafe to occupy.The best thing the city could do is unload this property as quickly as possible to avoid potential liability. The City has been mishandling the mansion long enough.

    1. You are so right
      And it’s not like they can cut corners since it’s a city property. The costs on this building’s renovation will spiral out of control quickly. The program will never be funded adequately when keeping a roof over their heads will take every dime they raise.

  2. Demolish Harley Clark
    The Arts Center violated OSHA rules with its illegal kiln and welding shop for years. There are more toxins in that building than everyone realizes. Nobody should enter Harley Clark without wearing a haz mat suit.

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