The artists Book House Harley Clarke’s proposal approved by the aldermen
EVANSTON, IL – Evanston City Council on Monday authorized lease negotiations with a tenant for the historic Harley Clarke Mansion and Coach house, a city-owned lakefront property facing potential demolition in 2018.
After considering four proposals for the renovation of the property, the aldermen voted 7-1 to approve a proposal from the Maison du Livre Artistes – a library, bookstore, art studio and café. Ald. Tom Suffredin, 6th arrondissement, voted against, and Ald. Ann Rainey, 8th room, abstained. Final approval of a negotiated lease will require six votes, according to city staff.
The Harley Clarke Mansion and Coach House built in 1927 has been owned by the city since purchased fraternity in 1960 and has been vacant since the departure of the Evanston Arts Center in 2015.
Monday’s meeting came nearly six months after city council ordered staff to review proposals submitted in response to the May 2019 meeting. request for proposals. In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak in Illinois, city staff have asked each of the groups to submit a revised post-COVID-19 fundraising plan and make changes to their model.
This request for proposals followed the overwhelming majority of voters approval of a non-binding referendum asking whether the city should preserve the landmark for public use “at minimal or no cost to Evanston taxpayers”. The referendum was placed on the November 2018 ballot after a abortive effort to demolish the structure via private financing earlier that year.
Visions of the future for the city-owned lakeside monument were submitted by four groups: Artists Book House, Evanston Community Lakehouse and Gardens, Evanston Conservancy Benefit Corporation and ONECommunity Museum.
City staff rated the proposals according to six criteria. (See full scores below.) Three-quarters of the score went to the benefit of the proposed use of the site, the financial capacity of the proposal, and the qualifications of each team. The other quarter of the score consisted of community benefit, completeness of proposals and their commitment to achieving the city’s goal of involving minority, women-owned or Evanstonian businesses.
One of the proposals was deemed “highly qualified”, two were deemed “qualified” and one was deemed “less qualified” by an evaluation committee made up of staff from the city director’s office, department. parks, community development and the public. work, purchasing and installation divisions.
Three of the proposals were included in the audience materials ahead of Monday’s city council meeting, when one of the groups refused to release its response, according to staff.
The best performing plan was submitted by the Artist’s Book House group, founded by author Audrey Niffenegger. The proposal envisions using the Harley Clarke House as an educational space, gallery, library, bookstore and café devoted to book art and showcasing local authors and artists. There will be a papermaking workshop and heavy machinery for printing, with bookbinding in the old master bedroom of the house. A restored library will be open to the public on a limited basis.
Niffenegger, a native of Evanston and author of the best-selling book “The Time Traveller’s Wife,” founded the Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College in Chicago in 1994. This center, which offered masters programs and residencies, has closed in 2019. The Artists Book The House’s proposal aims to provide non-credit community education and internship opportunities.
The non-profit group estimates the cost of its proposed renovation to be between $ 8.2 million and $ 10.4 million for the main house, with another $ 1 million to $ 1.4 million for the rebate. The group is considering hiring a professional fundraiser to finance the renovation without borrowing money. The project team includes architect Eifler & Associates, Teska Associates as landscape architects and WB Olson as general contractor.
The second highest rated plan was submitted by The Evanston Conservancy Benefit Corporation. Under Illinois law, a charitable corporation’s corporate charter must include social good, and it must report on its progress annually against a third-party standard to measure social responsibility.
The proposal calls for a gallery, event and exhibition space and kindergarten on the ground floor, a cafe and kitchen on the first floor and patio, a coworking office and conference space on the second floor and a space for mindfulness and movement programming on the third floor. The lower level would include performance and manufacturing spaces, while the greenhouse and veranda would be used by a local farm, and the shed would be turned into a bike shop and cafe.
According to the group, more than half a dozen companies have declared their intention to lease space at the site as part of the plan. They include Covenant Nursery School, Creative Coworking, a pair of catering businesses, a yoga studio, a theater company, a meditation space, Heritage Bikes & Coffee, The Talking Farm, and Midwest Center for Climate Action.
The group plans to finance the estimated investment budget of $ 4.9 million through investments, tax benefits, grants, bank loans and donations rather than fundraising. When finished, he said he plans to be financially viable on his own through income from tenants and events.
The next proposal with the best score came from Evanston Community Lakehouse and Gardens. The non-profit group was formed in 2015 to preserve the mansion. An earlier proposal from the group was the only response to a 2017 tender, but city council decided not to lease the site.
The proposal calls for a community campus with event space, outdoor classes, exhibits, visual and performing arts, environmental education, group exercises, cooking and gardening classes,
The group estimated the total cost of the planned renovations to be around $ 4 million. He was offered a $ 1.5 million private unsecured loan and plans to set up a for-profit affiliate to raise $ 1 million in donations for the first phase of the effort. According to her proposal, a feasibility study indicated that donor capacity exceeded $ 4 million, which it said would cover renovation and start-up funds, with income-generating and fundraising programs aimed at supporting local communities. operations in the following years.
The main architect of the project is Elliott Dudnik, who has already carried out projects in the house. The Central Lake Construction Company would be responsible for supervising the work.
OneCommunity MuseumThe RFP response, or RFP, was the only proposal rated “less qualified” by the Staff Advisory Committee.
The group, founded by Allison Lavigne and Benjamin Gasbarra, refused to publicly release their proposal, so it was not included in the documents on the agenda. The OneCommunity Museum also did not submit an entry form to minority, women’s and Evanston businesses, nor did it recognize the RFP addenda, according to staff.
According to a summary of the plan by staff, the group proposed to create a museum with children’s soil, a greenhouse and a working garden to produce flowers and microgreens, a market cafe, a shared community space and a room for educational and personal care activities.
The group’s financial plans are not clear from the included limited summary. The group expects to receive corporate and institutional sponsorships, grants, philanthropies, event revenue or other funding. He currently has about $ 100,000 to spend on the project and planned to raise an endowment of $ 10 million if he was chosen to lease the property.