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Downtown Yorkville developer bids to buy Old Jail, parking lot

Updated: December 19, 2012 11:37AM

YORKVILLE — Aldermen seem receptive to selling the Old Jail property to downtown investor and redeveloper Imperial Investments Inc.

Imperial was the only bidder this month on the Old Jail at 111 W. Madison St., just across from the Historic Courthouse. Imperial’s bid asks the city to deed the building over to the company, and in return, Imperial will spend $250,000 to renovate it.

Rick Tollefson, owner of Imperial, said the intent would be to turn the building into a private entity that will include some kind of museum. He said he would be willing to work with the historical society, and would investigate if the building should go on the state or national historic registers.

“My goal would be to preserve as much as we can,” Tollefson said. “I will see real attention paid to the history.”

Aldermen liked the bid enough to have city staff proceed with a purchase agreement that will come back to the council for final approval.

Yorkville purchased the Old Jail, which was built in the late 1800s and served as the county jail until into the 1990s. The purchase money came from a combination of Illinois Department of Transportation funds, and a $64,000 tourism grant from the state Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

City officials still are investigating if they have to give the tourism money back by selling the building. But officials are hoping that if there is a tourism element to the redevelopment, the grant can stand.

If the grant has to go back, that will be considered part of the redevelopment deal and the developer will have to pay it.

Imperial Investments started redeveloping downtown Yorkville several years ago by renovating the building that houses Cobblestone Bakery and Bistro, and also included Imperial’s office on the second floor.

The company has renovated the two buildings next door into what is now River’s Edge Theater, and is in the midst of developing the rest of the block into two different restaurants.

Imperial also owns several other buildings downtown. In a separate deal, Imperial also bid to pay the city $13,500 to buy and redevelop a parking lot behind the Cobblestone Building, along Van Emmon Street.

Aldermen instructed city staff to put a purchase agreement together for that property, too.

In yet another separate issue, the city also is considering putting a business district on that block being redeveloped by Imperial. The business district will actually enact a sales tax on Imperial to raise money to be spent on public improvements in the block.

The City Council held a public hearing on that business district Tuesday night.

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