After aldermen rejected a $1.2 million bid from Jennifer Pritzker to purchase the Harley Clarke Mansion earlier this summer, city officials are moving forward with a plan to solicit public input on what should become of the historic lakefront property.
The city council’s human services committee “will consider next steps for community outreach on future uses” at a public meeting Monday, Sept. 16, according to an e-mail sent to residents interested in receiving information about the mansion. The meeting takes place at 6 p.m. in the city council chambers of the Morton Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave.
Faced with mounting repair and maintenance expenses on the 86-year-old property, aldermen decided to issue a public request for proposals on the mansion last August. Pritzker’s company, Tawani Enterprises, was the only bidder, and city officials discussed the sale of the property in three closed-door meetings this winter.
Pritzker’s offer of $1.2 million was for purchase of the mansion and the 2.5 acres of surrounding parkland, despite the fact that the city issued a request for proposals for purchase of the mansion alone. She proposed turning it into a 57-room boutique hotel, while maintaining some public access to the beach nearby.
Despite Pritzker's record of historic restoration around the area, the concept of selling the public land around the property did not sit well with many Evanston residents. Hundreds of people packed city council chambers for the vote in June, and thousands signed paper and online petitions opposing the sale. Challengers said the city should not be selling public, lakefront property, and criticized the way the city handled the proposed sale. They listed closed door meetings and limited public involvement as their chief concerns.
City manager Wally Bobkiewicz—whom aldermen have tasked with finding an alternate use for the mansion—addressed that concern directly in a statement posted online.
“Moving forward, it is my intention to open up a process by which the City of Evanston can directly engage its residents so that they can share with us creative ideas for the adaptive reuse of this iconic lakefront property that would keep intact the surrounding park area,” Bobkiewicz said.
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- Limited Beach Access, Underground Parking in Pritzker Bid For Harley Clarke Mansion
- Evanston Resident Starts Petition to Stop Harley Clarke Mansion Sale
- Mayor Responds to Harley Clarke Mansion Petition
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