Home / News / Evanston maintains 15-year lease to move city operations downtown – Chicago Tribune

Evanston maintains 15-year lease to move city operations downtown – Chicago Tribune


The Evanston City Council held a special meeting Feb. 22 to reconsider a 15-year lease to temporarily move city operations downtown while the city discusses plans for a long-term home.

Councilors Clare Kelly, Bobby Burns, Thomas Suffredin and Devon Reid asked the meeting to scrap the 15-year lease and consider a short-term option ranging from three to 10 years. The City Council voted against terminating the 15-year lease, meaning it would move downtown to 909 Davis St. on a 15-year commitment.

The move raises accessibility and construction concerns for the city’s current headquarters, the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center. These woes have led some, like Mayor Daniel Biss, to call for urgent action. The approved resolution calls for city operations to be moved to the Davis Street location in July. Biss said the lease should be 15 years to ensure appropriate public input when deciding where to permanently locate the city operation.

“There needs to be a public discourse about where the long-term home of our city government should be,” Biss said.

Despite these concerns, three City Council members – Kelly, Suffredin and Reid – voted to terminate the 15-year lease, citing possible financial consequences. They say the move will cost millions of dollars that could otherwise be spent turning the Civic Center into something more affordable.

Some residents support moving to the city center due to its more central location and proximity to public transportation. This represents a change since 2007, when residents voted in favor of remaining in the Civic Center during a referendum.

Other residents agree with the three City Council members who opposed the 15-year lease and say it’s a reckless decision. One resident noted the Finance and Budget Committee’s insufficient involvement in the process and expressed a desire for its involvement. The Finance and Budget Committee’s only meeting regarding the Civic Center took place on Feb. 13, according to the latest committee agendas.

“This really smacks of financial recklessness, and that’s an issue we want answered,” said resident Trisha Connolly. “It’s still unclear to me who was motivated and why I had to leave (the Community Center). Yes, we all understand that the building needs renovations… but make a plan.”

Corey Schmidt is a freelance reporter for the Pioneer Press.


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