Batavia to improve church building in hopes of development
By Linda Girardi For The Beacon-News March 7, 2013 3:46PM
First Baptist Church of Batavia | Sun-Times Media file photo
Updated: April 11, 2013 6:34AM
BATAVIA — The city will hire an architectural-engineering firm to identify structural issues and develop cost estimates for improvements to the old First Baptist Church.
Aldermen awarded a contract to Wiss, Janney, Elstner & Associates Inc. of Northbrook to evaluate the condition of the buildings at 15 N. Washington Ave.
The city purchased the old church property in 2005 for $715,000, with plans to straighten the Route 25 jog between River and Washington streets. But the state determined the project was too costly, leaving the city to find a new use for the property.
In 2008, the city hired real estate advisers to assist in creating a master redevelopment plan for the property that encompassed three-quarters of a city block bounded by Washington and River, Wilson and State streets. But the property was not marketed to prospective developers because of the economic downturn.
The property’s main component is the original late 1800s church building. The master plan identified the original church structure and a 1930s era addition for potential redevelopment, and a 1950s classroom wing to be demolished.
Public Works Director Gary Holm said the city has performed routine electrical, HVAC and roofing maintenance to ensure the structures did not fall into a state of disrepair.
“It has recently been identified that the original church structure is in need of significant roof repairs,” Holm said.
He said the adjacent church parking lot, which was used as a construction staging area last summer for the rebuilding of North River Street is in need of significant patching.
Holm said the improvements are included in the current fiscal year budget, but they are also the “driving forces” behind the City Council’s decision to direct staff to re-evaluate the 2008 master plan for the property. The real estate advisers suggested the property could be redeveloped for townhomes, condos, office and retail.
Aldermen approved a fixed fee of $26,000 for WJE to evaluate the condition of the buildings.