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The Butcher Boy School of Music Production might not be on the chopping block after all.
The Design and Project Review Committee has conditionally recommended a revised plan that, if passed by the City Council, might allow the financially embattled music school at 1224 Washington St. to stay open.
The revised plan, which passed the committee by an 8-3 vote on Feb. 15, next goes to the Land Use Commission a second time on Feb. 23.
Butcher Boy proprietor Jim Tullio changed direction for his studio when business dried up because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Butcher Boy has become a nonprofit organization helping high school-age musicians learn facets of music production and make their own recordings. Working, socially distanced, with two students at a time, Tullio has so far compiled more than 60 tracks with the students.
Tullio says that a sharp increase in the studio’s mortgage payments has made the prospect of staying in business unlikely unless he can subdivide his lot. But the parcel he wants to sell would be less than the 5,000-square-foot minimum area required for lots in the R-3 residential zone, where the school is located.
Design and Project Review panel members, who have said they have reservations including some regarding the water drainage capabilities and building lot coverage at the site, had recommended against approving the subdivision, but on Jan. 12, the Land Use Commission gave Tullio more time to explore his options.
“My building is in jeopardy,” Tullio said Feb. 15. “That’s why I’m trying to sell my lot, to save the building.”
He added, “There are many, many lots in Evanston that are under 5,000 square-feet.”
But City Engineer Lara Biggs, while offering praise for the mission of Tullio’s business, said she could not in good conscience vote to make an exception.
“Flooding in this town is a very real problem,” she said.
Nevertheless, the matter now goes forward again to the Land Use Commission.
Design and Project Review members attached a number of additional conditions with their recommendation. Those included prohibitions on future variances for the newly created lot’s building-lot coverage and impervious surface coverage, and a clause specifying that, should Tullio’s building ever be replaced, the new structure would be subject to present building standards. Additionally, committee members recommended against a curb cut on Washington Street and suggested that Tullio replace his existing patio with permeable surface materials.