An Evanston alderman wants to have the city reconsider its policy of being willing to pay local contractors more for city construction projects.

Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, stung by the high cost of bids to convert storefronts on Howard Street into a new home for Chicago’s City Lit Theatre, said Monday that she wants the City Council’s Administration and Public Works Committee to take another look at the policy — which in effect says that the city would pay an Evanston-based contractor up to 5 percent more for construction work than it would pay for a contractor from out of town.

Rainey told aldermen numerous contractors from elsewhere in the area who wanted to bid on the Howard Street project “were intimidated” by the favoratism shown to local bidders, and felt they stood no chance of winning the job under those conditions, so they didn’t submit bids.

She suggested that there could still be ways to create work for Evanston-based firms on city projects by encouraging general contractors from out of town to take them on as subcontractors.

Meanwhile, Community and Economic Development Director Steve Griffin said he is continuing to meet with representatives of the theater group to try to come up with terms for a revised agreement for use of the space.

The City Council rejected a previous deal to renovate the building on a 6-3 vote last month after the cost figures for rehabbing the buiding at 727-29 Howard St. nearly tripled to $1.7 million.

Top: Alderman Ann Rainey.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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