Best Buy, a big box store in the thriving Howard-Hartrey shopping plaza, has donated about $10,000 worth of appliances to the City for use in two apartments its owns some 18 blocks east.

Best Buy donated two LG refrigerators, two Frigidaire gas ranges, two GE oven ranges and two Frigidaire dishwashers to help finish off the rehabilitation project for the two affordable rental units located above the future home of Ward Eight Bar at 631 Howard St.

“I am especially pleased to be thanking the Evanston Best Buy for this wonderful donation – this is the second piece of great news about this store in less than two months,” said Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl. “First, we were thrilled to learn that this Best Buy was not among the store closures that were announced in April. And now, the same store is donating appliances for our affordable housing units on Howard Street.”

Stephen Smith, the store’s general manager, thanked Eighth Ward Alderman Ann Rainey and Mayor Tisdahl “for this opportunity to give this donation. I was very moved about this story and the journey the project has been on. I knew right away that this was a project we could support and help drive growth back on Howard St., since my store is actually located on the same street.”

In thanking Mr. Smith, Ald. Rainey said, “We are incredibly grateful and thankful that Best Buy was able to donate these appliances to the homes on Howard Street.” She said that when she asked Mr. Smith to donate some appliances, “we headed to the chipped and dented appliances, but Steve led us to the fancy ones.”

The refrigerators, ranges and microwave ovens will help outfit the two apartments above the soon-to-open Ward Eight wine bar. Ward Eight owners Anne Carlson and her husband, Cody Modeer, will lease-to-own the property from the City and live in one of the apartments. The say they expect to be open for business late summer.

“Best Buy’s generosity and participation is making a big difference in our efforts to invest and revitalize Howard Street. This is one of those moments that we as a community can point to and say, ‘This is what Evanston is about – businesses making Evanston a better place to live and helping families, and in turn making Evanston an excellent place to live, work, and do business,’” added Mayor Tisdahl.

Within the past year the City has spent or pledged to spend about $750,000 of tax-increment financing (TIF) and economic development funds to help jump-start economic development on east Howard Street.

“If someone were to tell me 10 years ago this was going to happen, it would have been my fondest wish and I would have said, ‘but we’ll have to see.’ And here it is today,” Ald. Rainey said. “A theatre will be coming forth in about a year to 727 Howard St. We have drawings ready to go out to bid and we just can’t tell you how excited we are. Also, we have a showing of another building for the purpose of having a restaurant and 623 Howard St. Watch out, Rogers Park. Howard Street is back.”