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The City of Evanston today announced the sale of the three-story mixed-use building at 629 Howard Street, Evanston, to the owners of Ward Eight Cocktail Lounge as part of a lease-to-own agreement on Wednesday, October 12, 2016. A celebratory “key hand-off” ceremony will take place at Ward Eight on Monday, October 17, 2016, at 3 p.m.

Evanston 8th Ward Alderman Ann Rainey will join property owners Anne Carlson and Cody Modeer, elected officials, City staff, representatives from neighboring businesses, and the lounge’s local spirit and beer suppliers at the ceremony.

“I am thrilled that the owners of Ward Eight have purchased the property. This ensures a long-term investment and commitment to Howard Street and building Evanston’s destination dining scene to its southern border,” said Rainey. “Anne and Cody set in motion the realization of the City’s recent efforts to revive Howard Street. Since they opened in 2012, the dining scene on Evanston’s southern border has grown and we have welcomed Peckish Pig and Kale Burger, completed a full occupancy and stabilization of the luxury apartment building at 415 Howard Street, are awaiting the opening of Evanston’s first cidery, and are looking forward to bringing an exciting performing arts venue to the street as well.”

The City purchased the retail/residential property in February 2011 for $237,650. At that time, the property had been the source of numerous property standard violations and calls for service from the Evanston Police Department. The City worked to recruit retailers or dining establishments to this location. Anne Carlson and Cody Modeer, bartenders at the former In Fine Spirits in Chicago, submitted a business plan and a response to open a new cocktail and small plates establishment at this location.

In March 2012, the City entered into a lease-to-own agreement with Ms. Carlson and Mr. Modeer to rehab the ground floor property into a cocktail bar. Additionally, the City rehabbed two upper-floor residential units using Housing Rehabilitation funds. Both units were rented at affordability levels to income-eligible families, one of which was Carlson and Modeer’s.

Ward Eight Cocktail Lounge opened in December 2012and quickly was featured on website “Best of” lists and became known as a destination for craft cocktails.In February 2013, Ward Eight was nominated for Time Out Chicago’s 2013 Eat Out Awards as “Best New Bar” and in May 2013, Modeer was listed as one of 30 young culinary rising stars in Chicago by Zagat.

Since March 2013, Ward Eight has paid rent that was applied toward the purchase price of the property. In the lease-to-own agreement, the City sold the property to Carlson and Modeer for $362,650. The 2015 real estate taxes for the property were $6,974.92. Ward Eight has paid the City in excess of $50,000 in liquor and sales taxes since it opened.

Although the upper-scale establishment is located in Evanston’s 8th Ward, it was named after the classic cocktail, Ward Eight, which claims its origins in Boston in the late 1800s.

“We have been working towards this goal for about five years and we are excited to have achieved it,” said Carlson. “It has been a pleasure working closely with Alderman Ann Rainey and the City of Evanston. We are very grateful for all of the love and support the community has shown Ward Eight.”

For more information, please call/text 847-448-4311. For convenience, you may dial 311 directly while in Evanston.