Proposed Salvation Army store in south Evanston gets OK commission

Gordon Food Service
Gordon Food Service’s current location on Oakton Street could become a Salvation Army resale store. (Photo by City of Evanston) Credit: City of Evanston Photo / City of Evanston

Members of the Evanston Land Use Commission voted 8 to 1 on March 9 to recommend a proposal for a Salvation Army Family Store and Donation Center at 2424 Oakton St.

The case then goes to the planning and development committee of the city council. If ultimately approved, the store would replace Gordon Food Service, which is currently located there.

Attorney Mitchell Melamed, who represents the Salvation Army, said the new store would be a natural fit for the location and would require minimal interior and exterior alterations to the building.

The Salvation Army has another location farther west on Oakton Avenue in Skokie that it wants to close once its lease ends this fall. Skokie’s site currently generates about $90,000 in sales per month, Melamed said.

“It would generate a significant amount of sales tax per month for the city of Evanston,” Melamed said.

But some meeting attendees, including Chairman Matt Rodgers and Commissioner Max Pachtel, were concerned that traffic could be disrupted by cars dropping off donations. William Kindra, co-owner of Quad Indoor Sports, 2454 Oakton St., shares those concerns.

“Any Saturday or Sunday between December 1 and March 31, traffic is a complete and utter challenge,” Kindra said. “We have a lot of families there during the winter months.”

Melamed said the Salvation Army store will be closed on Sundays, but said its customers did not yet have an idea of ​​the average number of customers per day.

Commissioner Myrna Arevalo said that when she had previously dropped off items at Skokie’s location, there were rarely more than 10 cars in the parking lot.

“I don’t think that’s a cause for concern for a [uptick] in the cars in this [Oakton Avenue] location,” she said.

The commission passed on a number of previous suggestions from city staff and the design and project review board, most of which were aimed at ensuring that donation deposits did not lead to disorderly conditions outside. of the building.

However, the commission added two conditions. The first asked Salvation Army officials to work with city staff to ensure that the drop in traffic does not lead to additional congestion on the streets. A second condition stipulated that the Salvation Army set a goal of hiring at least 50% of its staff in Evanston, a suggestion by commissioner Kristine Westerberg, who noted that since the Salvation Army is a 501 (c ) 3, the property would come off the city’s tax rolls.

Rodgers shared Westerberg’s concerns and noted that although Gordon Food Service did not do solid business on the site, they were still paying around $130,000 in property taxes per year.

Although he supported the project as a whole throughout the discussion, Rodgers’ vote was the only one against the proposal.

“It will generate sales taxes, but I have concerns about removing any buildings from tax rolls,” Rodgers said.

Aurora J. William