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home : city news : city news May 24, 2016

7/10/2013 2:52:00 PM
Tendam Drops Bombshell on Noyes-Piven Negotiations
By Shawn Jones

City Council voted to introduce a measure that would provide the Piven Theatre Workshop with a $2.2 million loan from the City for renovations to the Noyes Center for the Cultural Arts for expansion and construction of new theater space. But the long-historied process was interrupted by a surprise proposal from Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, who stood to “ask the Council and others to consider a different proposal for Noyes.”


“If we’re going to make a commitment to the arts, we need to do it [right],” he said. The performing arts and visual arts stuffed together within an inadequate building at Noyes is not the right way, he said, echoing comments he has made throughout Council’s consideration of the Piven proposal.


Instead, he said, Council should focus on creating a new performing arts center in downtown Evanston. This proposal follows recommendations made by no fewer than three studies commissioned by the City over the last 24 months, most recently the evanstARTS initiative.


The performing arts, such as live theater, music and dance, have very different needs from the visual arts, Ald. Tendam has said. Downtown Evanston is better suited to handle the influx of theatergoers than Noyes Street with its inadequate parking and residential aspects, he said. “This proposal creates the most impact for the community,” he said.


“I am willing to take the lead,” Ald. Tendam said, proposing to return to Council within two weeks. Ald. Tendam said he would devote himself to bringing everyone to the table. “In two weeks, I can get commitments from organizations that we go in this direction. … I’d like to believe we can do this,” he said.


Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, said, “I am glad to let you drive this bus for two weeks,” adding that she would help in any way possible.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said, “The City placed the [Noyes] tenants and Piven in this position” by asking tenants for proposals as to how to maintain the Noyes Center. “The City has a responsibility to put forth the best product it can,” and it “has a responsibility to maintain its buildings. We asked Piven to do this. This isn’t a situation where they were trying to get something from us,” he said. “I want us to be aggressive in the next two weeks” in looking for a way to construct a new building while looking at other ways to maintain existing buildings, Ald. Wilson added.


Leslie Brown, executive director of the Piven Theater Workshop, said, “We’ve stuck with this for over two years. My main concern is that there needs to be a plan.” Piven is working on several different proposals in several communities, she said. “We are open [to Ald. Tendam’s proposal] but we do need a plan.”


Council voted unanimously to introduce the current Piven proposal. In two weeks’ time, if Ald. Tendam is successful, Council may be wrestling with a very different proposal.



Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, July 11, 2013
Article comment by: Junad Rizki

Alderperson Tendam's idea, if done right, may be a very good one.
The city should tell Twani who wants to develop the Harley Clarke Mansion at lighthoue beach and put up a 57 room hotel and parking garage- Consider taking the parking lot by the library, were the new theater is being proposed and put your hotel and garage there, with the theater. The city can give the developer the land, since the developer would be building the theater.
This would be far easier to build than an underground garage, and a far cleaner site to deal with construction, with the many issues and very strong community opposition to building any commerical hotel on public park land.
The developer could have the naming rights, plus a hotel just as close to NU.
If Twani is not interested maybe another developer can be found?

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