The private Roycemore School in Evanston is expected to announce moving plans within the next few weeks.

The school, located since 1915 near the lakefront at 640 Lincoln St., needs to move because Northwestern University has refused to renew the school’s original 99-year lease on the site.

Roycemore Headmaster Joseph Becker said the school, which has 250 students spread across 14 grade levels, has been negotiating for a new site with several property owners. He declined to name them, but said the school expects to announce its plans within the next few weeks.

City officials said last week in response to questions at a neighborhood meeting that one of the sites the school has considered is theTapecoat Co. property on Lyons Street west of Ashland Avenue on Evanston’s west side.

But John Wertymer, part of a team of developers who control the Tapecoat site, said this morning, “We don’t have a deal with Roycemore and don’t expect we will have.”

Wertymer, one of whose children is a Roycemore graduate, said he’d last spoken to the school about the property three or four months ago.

At one time Roycemore had considered moving across the street from its current site to the former Kendall College property, but those discussions ended when the land, since rezoned for a single-family development, proved too expensive for the school’s budget, according to Alderman Elizabeth Tisdahl, 7th Ward.

“Roycemore is a great school,” Tisdahl said. “We hope they’ll stay in Evanston.”

Becker said Roycemore is financially prepared to make a move to any of the sites currently under consideration and that one of the school’s primary objectives is to remain in Evanston.

Wertymer said that a few years ago he’d tried to interest the school in moving to the Mallinckrodt property in Wilmette, a former school since redeveloped for condominiums, but he said school officials told him the site was too far north.

Sean Walsh has more on Roycemore and its moving plans in this video report.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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13 Comments

  1. What’s up with Northwestern?
    First it was the Dawes House and the History Center, and now Roycemore. Why are they pushing out established Evanston institutions? I find this very troubling. Do they own any more buildings around town that they will be taking back?

  2. Another Lease Denied?
    Does anyone know what Northwestern plans for the Roycemore site? Shouldn’t we find out?

  3. 99 years was long enough
    Does anyone know what Northwestern plans for the Roycemore site? Shouldn’t we find out?

    Why is it our business?

    1. Roycemore has a close
      Roycemore has a close working relationship with Northwestern and has never challanged the end of this lease- you should talk to the Head Master there.

    2. Displacing kids from a school is nothing to be flip about
      Sure, as of this moment I don’t know anyone at Roycemore (though a friend’s child recently graduated) However, if Evanston kids are being displaced, or offered fewer alternatives for education, Evanston citizens should be offered an accurate and reasonable explanation. I think this should apply to any Evanston institution that is housed by NWU.

      Find out more about Brummel Park Neighbors and Michele Hays

      1. don’t worry about the kids
        Michele –
        I think that a 99-year lease was too generous back in 1909. Northwestern honored it, and now that it is expiring the University has every right to take back their property and use it for their own purposes. Considering the opposition NU generates whenever it tries to buy new land in this city, I don’t understand how you can complain when it takes its own land back.
        Roycemore has had many, many years to prepare for this. It sounds like they are prepared, and even if they aren’t, it isn’t Northwestern’s fault.
        Northwestern has no need to give you, ‘Evanston Citizens,’ or even the Council any explanation, accurate or reasonable or not. It is their property, they have the right to decide how to use it.
        It seems that the Roycemore people understand this. Unlike certain shoe salesmen and therapists, they aren’t complaining and making noise (not yet, at least) . They have been making plans to move. I don’t understand why some others are getting upset about this. And as for the ‘kids being displaced’, I suspect that these most of these kids will be fine, even if Roycemore closes. I am not concerned about these kids.
        If you and your group want to protest and demand an explanation from Henry Bienen, of course that is your right. I just don’t want the City to get involved in this.
        Protecting wealthy private schools, and interfering with landlords’ rights are not proper functions of city government.
        Even though Roycemore is apparently not contesting this, I am surprised that Brummel Park Neighbors is not supporting actively supporting Northwestern on the property rights issue. I think that the south side of Evanston would be better off if we made it EASIER for landlords to evict tenants for cause, and to refuse to renew even without cause.

        1. Adverse impact of Roycemore’s relocation
          “Considering the opposition NU generates whenever it tries to buy new land in this city, I don’t understand how you can complain when it takes its own land back.”

          …..Northwestern is re-claiming the land used by Roycemore
          …..Roycemore is committed to staying in Evanston.
          …..Roycemore is probably a non-profit institution.
          …..Roycemore’s relocation will likely result in more property being removed from the tax rolls, and it will probably be commercial property.

          The result is the same as if NU had gone out and bought a piece of tax-paying land.

          That is certainly something to complain about; however, the city and its tax-paying citizens and businesses can’t do anything about it.

          We can be hopeful that Roycemore will buy one of the already-tax-exempt parcels in Evanston.

        2. I do, on occasion, speak for myself
          While I agree that the City shouldn’t be involved, as a citizen, I’m concerned about Northwestern’s increasing tendency towards downsizing things that benefit Evanston Citizens. Certainly, there’s opposition to removing land from the tax rolls during a tax crunch – and I see impropriety in a tax-exempt institution of higher education going into business as a landlord.

          All I’m asking is a reasonable explanation – and I’m willing to put my own name on that request – (and I’m asking on my own, not behalf of Brummel Park Neighbors.) Is there a reason you’re unwilling to put your name behind your carte blanche support of NWU?

          Find out more about Brummel Park Neighbors and Michele Hays

          1. explanation
            Is there a reason you’re unwilling to put your name behind your carte blanche support of NWU?

            Yes Michele, there are several. First, I like privacy – I like to keep my name and activities off of the web, because I don’t want people knowing all of my political beliefs. If the owner of the website requires that I post my name, I will just go elsewhere to post. This fascination with privacy, private property, and people minding their own business is why I support the tower and oppose all efforts to harass Northwestern or developers.

            What NU is thinking about doing with the Roycemore buildings, or why they decided not to renew the 99 year lease…well, they don’t need to provide explanations for every business decision that they make.

            My question is…what makes you think that NU needs to explain any of their business decisions to you? What is your definition of ‘reasonable’. How about ‘the 99 year lease is expiring, and we want to use the buildings for University purposes’? Is that a reasonable explanation? And what are you going to do if you don’t like their explanation?

            And second – since the anti-development NIMBY’s are so shrill and vicious, I feel it is best for them not to know my identity.

            I do not have ‘carte-blanche’ support of NU. I have worked for NU – and the pay was not good – now I do not. But NU – like the condo residents – has become a scapegoat for all the problems in Evanston, most of which were not caused by NU or the condo residents. It seems that many of the townies are just bitter .

  4. The great changes happening in Evanston
    I was surprised to move into my neighborhood of modest homes and see so many homes with private school signs in the the yards.

    Talking to older neighbors I learned many of their children went to private school. What I came to conclude was that my neighborhood offered very affordable homes with low property taxes and bad schools to the previous generations. Families then sent their kids to private schools.

    Fast forward to my generation who bought into Evanston, expecting good schools and finding out that yes there are good schools, but not in the neighborhoods with the more affordable housing.

    So in the short time that I have lived in Evanston, I have witnessed the beginnings of a transformation in the school system in my neighborhood. It is a parent-led change.

    I also have witnessed many more families moving in, with young children. These children play outside their homes in their yards with their friends who live nearby. It’s wonderful and very different from when I first moved here.

    The parents who chose private school for their kids wanted the best for their kids, but their neighborhoods were forsaken in the process. They were unwilling to take on the problems.

    I believe that if the private schools were interviewed as to how their students have changed, I believe that the students that now are starting in their schools come from the very wealthy homes in Evanston not the modest homes. The costs of living in Evanston are way too high for the average family to afford their tuition.

    I hold no sorrow for the private schools. To once again use Northwestern as the bad guy is just the same old tired argument by old guard Evanston that has a scapegoat for every problem.

    To be sad to leave a location that I’m sure they have enjoyed for 99 years is understandable. To play this as another way that Evanston is being ruined is wrong.

    Evanston is engaged in a rebirth with a younger generation, both with and without children, who are facing Evanston’s problems head on and making changes that are resulting in Evanston being a great place to live.

    1. What facts do you have to suggest District 65 is turning around?
      Please provide some facts – as to the turn around you see in District 65.
      There have been private schools here for years – the fact of the matter is the upper middle class is has not been coming into the system for years in replacement numbers.
      .
      The so called racial balance here is only being maintained by the fact the low income population groups are shrinking and the higher income group is not growing as you might suggest. ( home owners with children)

      If you go back in time the “old guard” in the 60’s and 70’s the school districts had their highest population – the high school was over 6,000 students and was rated the best in the country. Now it is being reorganized under no child left behind for failure!

  5. anonymous
    I love this guy—classic…

    “I hold no sorrow for the private schools. To once again use Northwestern as the bad guy is just the same old tired argument by old guard Evanston that has a scapegoat for every problem…..Evanston is engaged in a rebirth with a younger generation, both with and without children, who are facing Evanston’s problems head on and making changes that are resulting in Evanston being a great place to live.”

    Hmmm—ughhhh sure—okay Spongebob younger generation Squarepants—After you, Patrick, and Krabs Bienen have everything all worked out—-give us a holler

    “Northwestern has no need to give you, ‘Evanston Citizens,’ or even the Council any explanation, accurate or reasonable or not. It is their property, they have the right to decide how to use it.
    It seems that the Roycemore people understand this. Unlike certain shoe salesmen and therapists, they aren’t complaining and making noise (not yet, at least) . They have been making plans to move. I don’t understand why some others are getting upset about this. And as for the ‘kids being displaced’, I suspect that these most of these kids will be fine, even if Roycemore closes. I am not concerned about these kids.
    If you and your group want to protest and demand an explanation from Henry Bienen, of course that is your right. I just don’t want the City to get involved in this.”

    Your right–King Bienen need not answer to me or any other of his peasants…He who holds the MIGHTY CHARTER makes the rules…Also–It’s so nice that you don’t care about kids who happen to attend private schools—but wait a second—isn’t NU a private school???…and maybe next time there’s a fire on campus, we’ll keep our fire trucks in their garages and hand out squirt guns to Henry and the rest of his clan.

    “Is there a reason you’re unwilling to put your name behind your carte blanche support of NWU?—Yes Michele, there are several. First, I like privacy – I like to keep my name and activities off of the web, because I don’t want people knowing all of my political beliefs. If the owner of the website requires that I post my name, I will just go elsewhere to post.”

    Geeez–I’ll bet you also took your football and went home with it when things did’nt go your way—maybe you should go post somewhere else–Nik for Kids??

    “I do not have ‘carte-blanche’ support of NU. I have worked for NU – and the pay was not good – now I do not. But NU – like the condo residents – has become a scapegoat for all the problems in Evanston, most of which were not caused by NU or the condo residents. It seems that many of the townies are just bitter.”

    You had a job at NU and now you don’t—and the pay was no good?…Smart Move!—I’m sure your new gig as the assistant manager on the night shift at the 24 hour Burger King is paying off big time!

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