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Martini bar, other uses proposed for historic Batavia building

Thomle building located 2 E. WilsStreet downtown Bataviwas recently acquired by City who is now looking for possible uses for

Thomle building, located at 2 E. Wilson Street in downtown Batavia was recently acquired by the City who is now looking for possible uses for it. Photo taken on Friday, May 17, 3013. | Brian Powers~Sun Times Media

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Updated: June 22, 2013 6:05AM

BATAVIA — Aldermen got their first look at two proposals for the 1876 Thomle building located on the east bank of the Fox River in the heart of the downtown historic district.

The city acquired the building at 2 E. Wilson St., built of local limestone, in 1997 as part of plans for redevelopment of the downtown.

Ole Thomle came to Batavia in 1854 “practically penniless” and became owner of a thriving furniture business and built the building.

Michael Grudecki, president of Vignette Home Decor in Batavia, pitched his concept for “Tini Lounge,” a small upscale bar that would specialize in martinis, as a possible use for the building.

Grudecki told aldermen that although the business would be classified as a bar, the concept is to create a “luxury experience” and a destination before people dine at local restaurants.

“The atmosphere will be that of a typical trendy lounge you would find in Chicago,” Grudecki said.

He said the proposed target market is the “sophisticated 30 to 60 somethings” and “professionals and locals within the area that want an upscale experience.”

Grudecki proposed to lease out the lower level to new businesses looking to grow.

Batavia Enterprises of Batavia pitched a concept that would create a partnership of “several possible property owners” that would redevelop the Thomle building along with the building immediately to the east at 4-6 E. Wilson St. for stores, restaurants and apartment units.

Austin Dempsey, owner of Batavia Enterprises Real Estate and vice president of Batavia Enterprises, said the concept of “sharing resources” was created decades ago by a group named the Batavia Downtowners. Dempsey said the organization represented “the biggest pillars of Batavia” who were both property and business owners.

The Batavia developer proposed “a combination of the two buildings to create a larger-scale, higher density impact in the core of the downtown.”

“It would be a sharing of resources of several downtown stakeholders to turn a piece of property into a strong element that would be part of the fabric of the community,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey said the proposal is in keeping with the city’s downtown comprehensive plan that calls for “downtown living” to support the economic viability of the downtown.

The City Council authorized staff to seek proposals for the possible sale of the property last fall.

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