By Bob Seidenberg Wednesday, August 21, 2019 9:49 AM Evanston Roundtable
Only one applicant took advantage of the City’s invitation Aug. 6 to present their proposals for the City-owned Harley Clarke mansion and coach house, and she was someone already quite familiar with the process as well as the building’s rather complicated history.
The City of Evanston is seeking to enter into a long-term lease of the Harley Clarke mansion and coach house to a party that will invest in and renovate the property, located at 2603 Sheridan Road, officials said in their invitation.
A second meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Nov. 5 in the Morton Civic Center.
Emily Guthrie, President of Evanston Lake House and Gardens, soon to be renamed Evanston Community Lake House & Gardens (evanstonlakehouse.org) took advantage of the opportunity to brief a small audience in the Parasol Room of the Morton Civic Center on the group’s plans, reading a statement.
Ms. Guthrie said the groups’ vision is “to restore and dedicate our historic and publicly owned community house on the lake for the benefit of all Evanstonians.”
She said the group intends to submit a response to the City’s Request for Proposal for the historic lakefront property’s use by the City’s deadline. The group’s response will include “programming and arts and culture, environmental, cultural education, recreation and wellness,” as well as the site being used for community gatherings and events.
The proposal will also have a “plan, along with identified financial backing that actualizes the will of our Evanston community and coincides with the results of a referendum where over 80% voted to protect from demolition and restore the Harley Clarke house for public access at little or no cost to taxpayers.”
Ms. Guthrie said the group intends to draw on ideas from residents at three community meetings held earlier this year, as well as some which arose during the City’s celebration in 2013 of its 150th anniversary.
“Evanston Lake House & Gardens has been at this for five years,” Ms. Guthrie continued. “We submitted a really good RFP. We will be making some changes to it, improving it and incorporating over 250 ideas which came out of those public hearings that we held last spring.
“We’re working on it, going to stay on it, stay with it,” said Ms. Guthrie, mostly addressing audience members like her who have long been committed to the project.
In April, aldermen approved a request for proposal to find a new user for the English Tudor style mansion and grounds, which have sat vacant since 2015.
Tours of the buildings for interested parties are scheduled to be held from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 3, 4 and 5 and Oct. 1, 2 and 3. Additional tours are to be scheduled at the discretion of the City.
The deadline for submitting proposals is Feb. 28, 2020, under the timetable set by the City Council.
More information about the Request for Proposal and property can be found at cityofevanston.org/2603 Sheridan or by calling/texting 847-448-4311 (or dialing 311 if an Evanston resident.), officials said.