The proposed deal to have a state agency take over the city-owned Harley Clarke mansion on Evanston’s lakefront may hinge on whether new governor Bruce Rauner thinks it’s a good deal.
City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz will tell aldermen at Monday’s Human Services Committee meeting that negotiations with the state Department of Natural Resources to have its Coastal Management Program move into the mansion have essentially stalled.
Top IDNR officials the city has been negotiating with will be leaving the agency when Rauner takes over as governor in January.
And the state, Bobkiewicz says, has been insisting on buying the building and the land — rather than signing a long-term lease, as city officials would prefer. The state says it needs to own the property to qualify for grants needed to rehab it, but aldermen don’t want to lose control over the long-term future of the site.
Given those factors, “I question the ability of this transaction” to move forward, Bokiewicz says in a memo to aldermen.
He wants aldermen to tell him to seek a written response from the state about its intentions that he could present to them in January.
Meanwhile, Bobkiewicz plans to ask the aldermen to approve a request from the mansion’s current tenant, the Evanston Arts Center, to extend its lease from Jan. 31 to May 31, to give the center time to finish renovation work at the new site it has purchased at 1717 Central St.
He’ll also ask them to approve waivers of building permit and other city fees associated with the new location and provide trash containers for the center’s move out of the mansion as well as a $5,000 grant to assist with the cost of hiring professional movers.
Arts group seeks extra months at mansion (11/12/14)
Art center buys new home (11/5/14)
Harley Clarke mansion deal faces delay (10/26/14)