On May 18, 2015, the Harley-Clarke Citizen Advisory Committee and the City of Evanston held a public workshop to discuss options for the future use of the Harley Clarke property and buildings. The seven-member Committee had been convening over the previous four months to determine viable options for the future of the property after the Evanston Art Center, a tenant of 40 years, vacated the property at the end of May. The Committee recommended five options to the City:
1. Retain and renovate the building for a to-be determined public use
2. Demolish the building and redevelop the site as park land on the location
3. Sell the building for redevelopment for commercial use, such as a hotel or event space
4. Sell the building for redevelopment under residential zoning
5. Sell or gift the building to an organization that would renovate and preserve it for public use such as a cultural or educational center.
A presenter for each option was selected based on pre-submitted position papers. SEA President, Sheila Sullivan, was invited to present the first option. Sullivan explained why SEA supports renovating the Harley-Clarke structures for non-commercial, public uses. The reasons include the fact that the buildings are worth restoring and would provide the immediate space for public education and cultural use that the city so desperately needs. Further, Sullivan showed how the renovation, operation and maintenance costs are affordable and explained the many funding options available to support public use.
Over 200 citizens attending the workshop were then divided into small groups to discuss the pros and cons of each option. Each attendee was also asked to complete a survey ranking the five options in order of preference. SEA’s presentation received positive support from many of the workshop attendees.