Evanston RoundTable
Developers hope to build within the shell of the old Varsity Theater, which closed in 1984. (Photo courtesy Campbell Coyle Real Estate)

Happy Friday morning, Evanston.

Here are the latest news and feature stories from around the city.

Evanston City Council members took steps at a recent meeting to approve developers’ requests to transform properties that once housed landmark businesses.

On March 14, council members considered zoning requests for the former sites of the Varsity Theater, 1706-10 Sherman Ave., one of Chicagoland’s premier movie houses when it opened Dec. 24, 1926; and the Burger King restaurant at 1732-34-40 Orrington Ave., which, less nobly, sneaked in as one of the city’s first franchise restaurants downtown and served 24-hour fast food for decades.

(Image from City of Evanston Preservation Commission packet)

The Evanston Preservation Commission reviewed ambitious modifications to a Hinman Avenue home sought by a man who bought the house for his daughter to live in while she attends college.

The commission, by a 6-1 vote, issued a certificate of appropriateness for changes to the home at 1727 Hinman Ave. But at the March 15 meeting, neighbors expressed concern that the house could be used as an unofficial student residence in the years to come.

Commissioner Stuart Cohen told those gathered, “We hear all of you people [but] you’re at the wrong meeting,” adding that neighbors would likely have to file complaints should the home in fact turn out to be a de facto boarding house.

COVID-19 by the numbers: 8 cases were reported on Wednesday, March 16, the last day the city updated case totals. The seven-day average is nine cases per day.

Elsewhere on the RoundTable website

At This Time: Thursday at 6:20 p.m. Ally stands next to a sign asking for help finding her diamond engagement ring. She lost it Saturday on the 1500 block of Sherman Avenue. She got married last year. “It’s a spiritual symbol of our love,” said husband Charles. “She always has talked about how it glows.” He affixed 50 signs to light poles and expects to put up another 200. “We are not the kind of people that will give up,” he said. If you have clues, call Ally at (480) 200-9241. (Photo by Richard Cahan)

COVID-19 update: 7-day average of new cases in Evanston is 9.0, compared with 9.6 one week ago. New COVID-19 cases in Evanston, suburban Cook County, Chicago and the state dropped slightly in the last week.

Local Rotary chapter to launch research-driven website to empower girls. The Evanston Lighthouse Rotary Club will finish Women’s History month by starting a multimedia website with affirming messages for girls in the age of toxic social media and body-shaming. 

Kingsley Elementary School students work on a Maker Lab project. (Photo by Judy Chiss)

Foundation 65 seeks to bridge gaps in schools and classrooms. The independent grant-making organization has been supporting and strengthening programs and projects in District 65 schools since 2008, but it has stepped up its efforts during the urgency of the pandemic. The foundation awards about $200,000 each year through a variety of grants.

The balloon display for Stella’s 20th anniversary. (Photo by Sam Stroozas)

Stella Boutique: Cheers to 20 years. Rachel Hershinow, owner of Stella Boutique on Central Street, began hosting videos on social media a few weeks after the COVID-19 pandemic began to showcase products and help stay open. Two years later, she’s celebrating her 20th anniversary at Stella Boutique.

Celebrate spring at Holi Fest, a traditional Indian celebration, March 19. Downtown Evanston and the Evanston Association of Indians (EAI), founded by Bindu Reddy, are hosting Evanston’s first-ever Holi Fest, an Indian celebration that marks the beginning of spring, renewal and love.

Picturing Evanston. A colorful city within the city at E2 Apartments, 1890 Maple Avenue. This hidden treasure is visible from the alley behind the building. (Photo by Joerg Metzner)

Spring bulk trash pickups begin April 1. The City of Evanston’s Public Works Agency will offer residents the free removal of up to 6 cubic yards of bulk garbage this spring as part of its Bulk Trash Pickup program.

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Around the web

‘Why? Why? Why?’ Ukraine’s Mariupol descends into disrepair. This dispatch from two of the last journalists remaining in a southeastern Ukrainian city besieged by Russian forces reveals indiscriminate attacks on civilians and makes plain the horror of a country at war.

The historical roots of the war in Ukraine. Nonprofit news site The Conversation complied a PDF, offered for free to RoundTable readers, with six articles covering the history of Ukraine and its political relationships with Russia.

Dyeing the Chicago River green is a St. Patrick’s Day tradition. How did it start? Green dye in the downtown river was first used to identify sources of sewage entering the water, but later it gained a more festive purpose.

Bestselling author Isabel Wilkerson to deliver NU commencement address this year. In 1994, Wilkerson became the first Black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for her work as Chicago bureau chief of The New York Times.

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Duncan Agnew

Duncan Agnew covers Evanston public schools, affordable housing, City Hall and more for the RoundTable. He also writes long-form investigations, features and the morning email newsletter three times a...