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Aurora Finance Committee OKs LaSalle Street development deal

Updated: October 12, 2013 6:40AM

AURORA — Aurora’s Finance Committee unanimously approved a deal that would kick more than $450,000 toward the development of a co-working space on LaSalle Street.

The city aims to give $457,000 in tax increment financing funds to Aurora-based Jimi Allen Photography Inc. If approved by the full City Council, the $457,000 will reimburse Jimi Allen, an Aurora photographer, for the acquistion and renovation of 56-60 S. LaSalle St. Funding would come from TIF District 1, and would represent about 30 percent of the project’s estimated total cost.

Under the deal, Allen seeks to renovate a vacant 16,000-square-foot building into the Gravity Building, a co-working space for start-up businesses and free-lancers. Dedicated office space will be on the building’s second floor and events will be hosted on the building’s third floor.

Restoration of the building, part of the LaSalle Street Auto Row Historic District, is underway. With the city funding commitment, Allen will be able to leverage additional private financing to complete the project, he said.

Allen purchased the property in 2011 for $256,000.

Alderman Rick Mervine, 8th Ward, said the building is “perfectly suited” for a co-working use. It’s not too often that these old buildings are able to be repurposed, he said.

“You guys have your work cut out for you (in terms of) getting financing,” Mervine said. “But when this happens, it will be good.”

Finance Chairman Bob O’Connor, At-large, said the innovative development of the space would bring people downtown.

Allen worked as a photographer for Copley Newspapers, then-owner of the Beacon-News, from 1998 to 2001.

Other deals

The city’s Finance Committee also approved a $75,000 development agreement with KnightsBridge Global, LTD. The $75,000 would reimburse KnightsBridge for acquisition and now-completed renovation costs of 35 N. Broadway in the city’s downtown. KnightsBridge will teach cake decoration classes and sell cake decoration equipment on site at the 8,000-square-foot facility.

The committee also approved a $60,000 development agreement with Fitzpatrick Properties, owned by Sugar Grove developer Kevin Fitzpatrick. The $60,000 would reimburse Fitzpatrick for a portion of the acquisition cost of 201 N. Lake St.

The three-story, 18,100- square-foot Lake Street property has been renovated into five office units and four apartment units. Extensive remodeling has occurred, and eight of the nine units are now occupied.

The full City Council will discuss the development deals at Committee of the Whole at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

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