At a Second  Ward meeting on June 2, Dave Stoneback, the City’s Director of Public Works, said the City is planning to make improvements along Main Street from the North Shore Channel to Dodge Avenue in two phases. Phase I will focus on Main Street from the North Shore Channel to Pitner Avenue, and will be designed in 2016-2017, with construction to begin in 2017. Phase II will focus on Main Street from Pitner to Dodge Avenue. Concept plans will be developed in 2016-17, and a construction schedule will be decided down the road. 

Marty Lyons, Assistant City Manager, said there may be a year or two pause between Phase I and Phase II to allow work to go forward on the Robert Crown Center, which may be either a renovation and expansion of the existing building or the construction of a new one.

Second Ward Alderman Peter Braithwaite said residents have expressed concerns about traffic congestion on Main Street during morning and evening rush hours. Residents have also expressed concerns about the entrances to Main Street Marketplace shopping center on Main Street, the difficulty in crossing the street, and the lack of sidewalks on the south side of the street.

Senior Traffic Engineer Rajeev Dahal said the City plans to smooth over the access road to the shopping center at McDaniel Avenue so there is not a dip in the pavement, and to modernize the traffic signal there. At the eastern-most entrance to the shopping center, the plan is to provide a pedestrian crossing and possibly add a traffic signal, he said.

In response to questions, Mr. Stoneback said the plan is to construct a full sidewalk on the south side of Main Street from the shopping center to Dodge Avenue, and on the north side to elevate the sidewalk between Grey and Brown Avenues. He added that the City was planning to improve the pedestrian crossing near Hartrey Avenue.

Mr. Dahal said the City is considering creating a right turn lane on Main Street at Dodge Avenue, which would help traffic flow. He added that none of the plans are final, and the City will gather input from the public before finalizing them.

Robert Crown Center

Mr. Lyons said a decision on whether to renovate the existing Crown Center or to construct a new one will depend on how much money the City can raise through fundraising. He said it would cost between $18 million and $20 million to rehab the building. To construct a new building would cost about $30 million.

City Council has indicated it is willing to put $10 million into the project, and the Evanston Public Library said it will put in $2.5 million, for a total of $12.5 million. The fundraising effort would need to raise about $6 million to renovate the building and about $18 million to build a new facility.

Mr. Lyons said in the next three to four months, the City’s fundraiser will approach large donors and after that they will have an idea of how much they might be able to raise. “We have to wait and see how the dollars turn out,” he said.

In response to questions, Mr. Lyons acknowledged that donors might be more willing to commit to donating funds if they knew it was a new building and knew what the design looked like. He added, though, that major donors would have the option of pulling their donation if they did not like the final project.

Once the funding is determined , concept drawings could be prepared and the public would have an opportunity to give input, Mr. Lyons said.

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...