First and second floor rendering of Crown Center from WTA+ MJMA

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With the encouragement of City staff and Friends of the Robert Crown Center (FRCC), City Council on Sept. 25 approved unanimously and without much comment three measures that will advance the Robert Crown Community Center and Library (RCCCL) project: an amendment to the contract with Woodhouse Tinnucci Architects to allow for the completion of construction drawings and supervision of the project; the authority to advertise a request for proposal (RFP) for construction management services for the project; and an extension of the contract of Community Counseling Services (CCS) the fund-raising consultant through the end of 2017.

Robert Crown Center, the Old and the New

The present Robert Crown Center, built in 1975, was designed by the Evanston-based architectural firm of O’Donnell Wicklund Pigozzi Architects (now CannonDesign). With one large ice skating arena with seating for approximately 1,100; a small studio-practice rink; a basketball-sized gymnasium; a nursery/child-care room; a variety of other program/multi-purpose rooms; locker rooms; rest rooms; offices; equipment rooms; a food/refreshment stand; and a reception area for skate rental, registration, ticket sales and the like, the building is used daily and sometimes well into the night.

Over the past seven months, staff and a team from Woodhouse Tinnuci have refined a design for the new facility. The new center will have two NHL-regulation size ice sheets and support spaces; a 200-meter running track; a gymnasium; a branch library; a reading garden; a preschool facility; several multipurpose rooms; a proshop and skate-rental and -sharpening facility; a fitness/dance room; a concession area; washrooms; storage space; vending areas; and a commercial kitchen. The new center will be built just west of the present center, which will be used until the new one has been completed. 

Money Matters

There is no cost to issue the RFP, according to the City. The contract extension with Woodhouse Tinnucci is for $1.6 million and for about nine months – until June 30, 2018. The $96,000 contract extension with CCS is for three months – through December of this year. By that time, the City will have paid CCS a total of $798,500, including the original expense for the feasibility study.

According to the City, FRCC and CCS have raised slightly less than $5 million, and they believe they will receive a $5 million matching grant. A memo accompanying the request to approve the contract extension stated, “The fund-raising program continues on in a more public phase with a major field-sports fund-raising event planned in November.” The goal was to have $10 million in order to begin construction on the $40+ million project, some of which will be funded by general obligation bonds. With that amount in sight, the City may break ground on the project next year.  


FRCC Treasurer Brian Gotte thanked the “300 families and local organizations” for their contributions and said the fundraising will likely hit $10 million in the next few weeks – “and we’ll go well beyond that in the coming year.” He added that these funds were raised without a design to show to potential donors and that the potential for offering naming rights would surely boost the fundraising.

Alderman Don Wilson, 4th Ward, said, “It’s been an amazing amount of work that’s gone into this. Fundraising certainly exceeded expectations. Thanks for all the hard work.”

Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, asked how much of the money was raised by CCS and how much by FRCC.

“In many cases, we don’t know,” said City Chief Financial Officer Marty Lyons. He said staff would prepare a report on the issue and added that the City would soon take over the receipt and administration of the funds.

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...