Back row: Dylan Blanchard, Bob Grover, Malik Turley, Dana Pearl; front row: Joe Blanchard, Vivian Blanchard.                      Photo by Mary Mumbrue

The City’s former recycling center, 2220 Oakton St., is now a storehouse for hundreds of garbage and recycling carts, season equipment and fresh dirt, but in the eyes of at least two aldermen it has the potential to become an entertainment and dining complex with a bowling alley.

“We put a lot of thought into this,” said Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th Ward, at a media tour of the center on April 6. “This building needs to be recycled. It’s outlived its usefulness,” she added.

Earlier this month, the City issued a request for qualifications to develop the property, with a deadline of May 15.The City will evaluate the qualifications and finalize a short list of qualified developers, said Johanna Nyden, economic development director of the City. Each of those developers would be able to submit a proposal, which would be evaluated by City staff, the City’s Economic Development Committee and, ultimately, City Council. The City hopes to have a development team in place by the fall.

Seventh Ward Alderman Jane Grover brought a crew of her family to the media tour, most of them carrying signs advocating a bowling alley in the space.

“This is the official announcement that bowling alleys are legal in Evanston,” said Ald. Rainey.

“Nobody’s building big bowling alleys these days,” said Ms. Nyden. Ald. Rainey agreed that the principal use would be different – “a bar or a restaurant. The bowling alley is the accessory.”

The 13,000-square foot building was built in 1991 and used as a recycling center until 2010. The property to be developed is nearly an acre – 39,000 square feet.