In 2006, Moshe Davis thought he found the right site to expand the Orthodox Jewish elementary school he ran in Chicago. An abandoned building that formerly housed an audio electronics company in Evanston seemed like the perfect new home.
He bought the building knowing the property was zoned for industrial use, but assumed the community would change that. It didn’t. Four years later, a lawsuit the school filed against Evanston is ongoing.
At the heart of the conflict is a dilemma that municipalities all across the Midwest have confronted throughout the recession: Do communities jump at the first chance – any chance – to fill vacant buildings or do they wait for the return of a tax-yielding business?