Evanston aldermen told city staff this week to press Smylie Brothers Brewing Co. for payment of back taxes and rent on the city's former recycling center now that the brewer wants to break its 10-year lease on the property.
The company's head, Michael Smylie, told city officials last month that he wants to exit the lease that took effect 17 months ago. Smylie was granted rent-free use of the property for the agreement's first 18 months to ready the site for use as a beer production facility and tap room.
Late last month Smylie Brothers announced on social media that they'd opened a different brewing facility on Chicago's north side.
Smylie claimed he should be able to exercise a "mutual termination" clause in the lease, but the city's legal staff says any termination option in the agreement expired nearly a year ago.
City staff says several other businesses are interested in the property, and Jonathan Shepard, co-founder of First Ascent Climbing & Fitness, appeared at Monday's City Council meeting to express his interest.
Shepard said the high ceilings in the recycling center building would make it ideal for the rock climbing exercise programs that First Ascent offers at its four existing Chicago locations.
City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said he would return to the Council in two weeks with plans for a new request for proposals seeking a new user for the recycling center property at 2222 Oakton St. and would be back with an update on talks with Smylie Brothers at the Council's June 11 meeting.
Smylie seeks to bail on recycling center (5/11/18)
Slow going for brewery deal with city (7/20/16)
Play ball inside recycling center? (1/21/11)
Carts bring end to recycling center (7/14/10)