Howard Street landmark still looking for new owner

999 Howard, in an image from Google Maps.

A landmark that inspires fond memories of summers past in many Evanstonians is still looking for a new owner.

The long-shuttered Dairy Queen at 999 Howard St. got an updated listing on the Koenig Rubloff brokerage website today.

The listing price hasn't melted much though. After going on the market at $554,999 back in March, the price has only been cut by $5,000 since then -- suggesting an owner who's not all that eager to sell. (However the building reportedly was listed early last year with another brokerage for $584,999.)

The roughly 1,000 square foot restaurant building sits on a 15,550 square foot lot and has an annual property tax bill of just over $4,000.

Neighbors say the DQ has been closed since around 2007 and at least two efforts to find a new owner/operator since then have come to naught.

The current listing says that in addition to selling, the owner would also consider leasing the building to a new operator.



Hello, Ann!

I can think of no one better than the Queen of Howard Street and her cohorts in the City Council to purchase this building for us, the citizens of Evanston.  I don't know who they will lease it to (rent free, of course) and what it will be used for (maybe a firehouse outpost, nail salon, pipe and tobacco shop, liquor store, pizza place - my God, the choices are endless!), but I have the utmost trust in their collective real estate intuition.  I'm getting giddy just thinking about it! 

Bar or Coffee Shop

This would be great location for a Coffee and Donut shop. Just need a drive through window.

Agree but ....

I assume you mean a real donut shop that makes the donuts on site. Dunkin Donuts was originally this way years ago. Now they recieve a shipment every day from who knows where.

Economics. It's Not Pretty.

While not nearly as lovely as the patio at nearby Peckish Pig, this picture speaks a thousand words about one of the many consequences of the decisions by our elected city officials to participate in the commercial real estate business. No business owner (regardless of experience) in their right mind who wanted to open a business on Howard would pay to buy or rent this property from a private owner. How could one possibly compete fairly in a marketplace where so many neighboring business owners are paying little or no rent to the City while growing their businesses? While I can understand that City officials may believe it necessary to create this artificial marketplace on Howard at this time, I would have more confidence in them if they gave any indication that their decisions are informed by an understanding of  fundamental economic principles. From what I’ve seen, these decisions get made routinely at council and committee meetings with little to no discussion, much less debate.

Some facts may shed light

The building has been vacant for many years due to numerous city code compliance issues that were grandfathered for the old owner but would be expensive for a new owner or operator to address.

At least one potential DQ operator backed out due to that. And then one person who was going to operate a business there a few years ago suffered a very severe health setback and decided against opening that business. 

Just look at the picture again -- very small space (went inside several times before it closed -- as I recall, no indoor seating, just a narrow ledge at the front windows) with lots of expensive code compliance issues.  And the building exterior looks very woebegone -- outdated and lower-end construction. Those factors are likely affecting the purchase or rental prospects of this building.

Yes, no doubt those factors

Yes, no doubt those factors are also affecting the viability of this commercial property, along with what is likely an unrealistic asking price. But commercial investors/owners are often faced with these same issues (code violations, outdated construction) etc. and make a decision to purchase/rent anyway because they decide it is nevertheless a worthwhile investment. I can't imagine anyone doing that with this property- there is no incentive to take such a risk knowing so many other businesses in the area are City-subdized. And anyone who wanted to deal with updating/repairing a commercial property with major code and other issues just has to wait for another City property to become available and then negotiate with the City to bear the burden of the upgrade. We just saw this happen in the past month with the new owner of Lush Wine & Spirits and that city property. I imagine it will happen again soon.

Dairy Queen Property

Yes, you are correct.  It is called Economic Development and it is done by MANY towns north, south and west of Evanston (can't say East as that is a lake!).  Why is everyone here so shocked that a municipality participates in assisting businesses to avoid continued blight of an area?  Any town that has the ability and foresight to do this does.  Drive downstate Illinois and you can see hundreds of towns that would if they could.  They do not have the customer base which is not an issue in Evanston.  You three on here can complain all you want about Peckish Pig and Ward 8 but there are hundreds of people who frequent these establishments every day who are THRILLED to have a viable place to go to in the neighborhood.

Look at the timing

This building sat empty for many years before the City of Evanston invested any money in any Howard   Street business. Sorry but the failure to sell or lease this overpriced and dilapidated building does not support your argument. 

I believe that the fact that

I believe that the fact that this building sat empty for many years before City investment, and is still sitting empty after significant City investment, is what supports my argument. No need to be sorry, though. I appreciate your viewpoint and ability to have a civilized exchange. I think we both understand each other's viewpoints, we just disagree. It's not about someone "not getting it," or "not understanding," (which are the favorite insults of late for council members to hurl when confronted with a viewpoint different from theirs), it's about exchanging opinions and having a dialogue like reasonable people with different perspectives. Thanks.

Backroom Deals

The fact that there is little to no discussion at meetings is probably because a lot of these are done as backroom deals. Everything is decided before the public can be involved. The City Council is determined to limit citizen comment and input as much as they can. Just look at the recent changes they've made to public speaking rules and meeting notice requirements. We need a new Council and a new staff that is educated on laws and Evanston code, and most of all we need a new City Manager. Citizens should be represented by their elected officials. 2017 can't come fast enough!

Amen to the message from Jill

Amen to the message from Jill E.  I remember a recent comment about the City Council:  If you're in, you're out.

Another perfect property for the city to buy, and there's lots of room for a Wally patio.