Evanston’s Economic Development Committee is scheduled to consider a proposal Tuesday from Smylie Bros. Brewing Co. to expand into the city’s former recycling center on Oakton Street.

A year after opening his first brewpub in the former state employment office at 1615 Oak Ave., Michael Smylie says he’s operating at capacity there and wants to expand to offer wholesale distribution throughout the Chicago area.

In a response to a request for proposals to take over the recycling center facility, Smylie, a Winnetka resident, says the new facility would have three times the capacity of the brewery at the restaurant on Oak and would also have a taproom, an event space overlooking the beer production area, an outdoor seasonal beer garden and possibly a music venue.

He says he’s also considering another location, owned by the City of North Chicago, as a possible expansion site.

He estimates the new facility will cost $3 million to build, take roughly a year to complete and will add about 25 employees to the 60 already working at the Oak Avenue site.

The City Council voted in February to seek proposals for repurposing the recycling center at 2222 Oakton St. City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz says three proposals were received for the property, with the one from Smylie Bros. receiving the highest scores in a review by city staff.

The city said it was seeking a “destination-oriented use with dining and entertainment opportunities” for the nearly one acre site at the edge of James Park.

The steel and brick recycling center buiding, constructed in 1991, has about 13,500 square feet of space.

City staff is recommending that the committee recommend that the full City Council authorize the city manager to negotiate an agreement with Smylie Bros. to take over the recycling facility. The staff memo doesn’t specify whether the agreement would be for a sale or lease of the property.

Tuesday’s committee meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at the Civic Center.

Related story

City seeks new use for recycling center (4/6/15)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. New brewery on Oakton?

    I can't help wondering about the feasibility of a brewery this close to Dawes Elementary School and also its proximity to James Park…. I thought there were restrictions on how close these establishments could be to school property. It doesn't seem like it is very far from the elementary school playground area to the Recycling Center building. Isn't this one of the reasons a brewery was unable to be established at the old Osco site on Oakton and its proximity to Chute Middle School?

    1. Don’t worry, distance is fine.

      You can stop wondering.  I am not sure about the zoning code, but you have examples of breweries that are actually closer to schools than this proposal. 

      The Recycling Center property is about 1077 feet from the Dewey.  Sketchbook brewery is 729 feet from Lincoln School.  The whiskey maker, Few Distillery, is 999 feet from Lincoln School.

      The current Smylie location is only 600 feet from Roycemore.

      There are lots of other examples of alcohol sellers close to parks and schools.  Coast Sushi is only 735 feet from Haven.

      The old Chicken and Waffle was directly across the street from both King Lab and Harbert Park.

      Smylie Bros will be a great addition to the neighborhood

  2. Excellent proposal

    Excellent proposal, good thinking Smylie brothers. Create some jobs, serve some cold beer after softball, weddings & events. Plus, getting that property onto the tax rolls benefits everyone.

    1. WOW..nothing for the kids in this community AGAIN!

      WOW this is crazy. I cannot believe that Evanston is putting more alcohol in the community when they are JUST talking about the KEG downtown Evanston. What the  he_ _ is going on here. I have lived

      In Evanston all my life, worked in Evanston, went to school in Evanston have friends and family in Evanston and NEVER seen people wanting to move out of Evanston until this new City Manager arrived.

      What about the kids that are live here in Evanston? What activates do they have besides the local community centers no one goes to because they are not appealing or even have things to do for all ages.

      SOMEONE needs to think about the kids and put a bowling alley, Roller skating rink, game room something that can work for our younger generation. PEOPLE don’t think about them By The Way!!!

      Where does this City Manager live was that Evanston or _________?


      1. no place for kids
        I totally agree! All I seem to read about are new micro-breweries, restaurants with liquor licenses, wine shops, etc……I realize that this is a college town, but these are transient people. What about the families who are the taxpayers, with kids, with no place fun to go? A large community room with games, a roller rink, a lounge with movies, etc…would be SO awesome. There really is no facility that is an all-purpose center for junior high and high school kids to just chill out with friends in a youth-friendly atmosphere.

        1. Haven’t I read about

          Haven't I read about proposals for the recycling centre to be turned into some sort of indoor sports complex in the past?  Why is it that those proposals failed?  I seem to remember that they didn't want to pay rent or something like that. Also this building has been vacant for a long time. I say it's time to get a qualified business in there, put it back on the tax rolls and generate some new jobs. Plus a movie theatre?  There's a huge one downtown. A roller skating rink?  A lounge?  The facility is only like 13000 square feet I think I read. Not really big enough for a multi purpose use facility. Heck, even for a soccer field indoors, I imagine you would need at least 10,000 square feet. Doesn't leave much room for anything else. 

  3. How about?
    Harley Clarke Mansion would also be a great location for what they are planning. Events with a nice lake view would be a big draw.

  4. Once again staff work lacks real numbers

    Where is the appraisal on the property?  I have asked does not exist.  How do you come up with a deal which will benifit the taxpayers?

    This is our asset. Once again Wally appears to be wanting to give it away.

    I hope those who favor this great deal will now open up their pockets books and give the Mayor and Council money for the new Robert Crown.  It clear this building could be used for the gym at Crown the city wants to build. The city is $20 million short on the ice rink. 

    So how much does Wally plan to sell this property?   I suspect this property with the building is worth $3 million plus, knowning Wally he will create a lease to own deal, with no real value to us.


  5. Wonderful site!  Already

    Wonderful site!  Already hundreds of children and families use the park during the soccer season and park somewhere away in the residential blocks.  They flood across Oakton, which has no crosswalks for blocks.  Add to that the sudden narrowing of eastbound Oakton right there.  Frequent screeches of brakes.and honking.  And then there's the drinking fountain and water system for 150 community gardens adjacent that have had no water or leaking problems for years without the city being able to figure out what to di,  Smilie should be able to strike a great bargain in response to all the potential complications, and maybe he can back out when the city can't deliver on the site.

  6. It would seem to be a perfect
    It would seem to be a perfect venue for sports related activities for our children/ young adults. Evanston already has a surplus of eating/drinking establishments. How about indoor soccer fields? It seems surprising that there were so few proposals. Why was that???

    1. Soccer

      Didn't I read that someone is developing a giant indoor soccer/mixed use complex behind the GFS over there, which must mean it's like, literally next door to the recycling center?

      1. Soccer

        Yes, Alderman Ann Rainey said at tonight's Economic Development Committee meeting that the foundation permit for the soccer dome project has just been issued.

        — Bill

        1. indoor soccer

          I heard that was for private soccer groups…..I could be wrong.   In any case… would sure be nice to put the brewery somewhere else…

          The "Y" isn't what it used to be…..there are no Boys or Girls Clubs… can't play in empty lots, etc…..can't roller skate around the streets or in town……I miss the good ole' days…, harmless fun all over town!   

          1. So many parks
            Evanston has many Parks most are rarely used. I know of at least 8 within walking distance of my residence and more often then not when I walk or drive past they are VACANT.

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