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Proposal for historic Batavia building features restaurant, loft apartments

The limestone clad 4-6 E. WilsSt. is former Phipps department store.  2 E. WilsSt. known as Thomle building immediately

The limestone clad 4-6 E. Wilson St., is the former Phipps department store. 2 E. Wilson St., known as the Thomle building immediately to the north, at one time was a northern terminal of the Chicago, Aurora and Elgin railway. The structures are at the

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Updated: January 17, 2014 6:15AM

BATAVIA — Aldermen now have a second proposal 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 development of the downtown. In 2000, the building was refurbished and used as a business incubator for entrepreneurs.

A year ago the city issued a “request for proposals” for the Thomle Building, comprised of four floors, for redevelopment and improvement of the downtown area.

The building at one time was a northern terminal of the Chicago, Aurora and Elgin railway and is at the south end of the William J. Donovan Bridge.

A St. Charles-based partnership of commercial real estate developers recently presented a proposal to combine the Thomle Building with the former Phipps Department store building immediately to the south, at 4-6 E. Wilson St.

The proposal is for a restaurant on the main level and five loft apartments on the upper floors.

“We would like to maintain the historic character of the properties, that is part of our attraction to the site,” said Ryan Corcoran of Corcoran Commercial Real Estate.

The proposal calls for a 3,628-square-foot restaurant on the main level and a 1,500-square-foot deck that would overlook the Fox River. The residential apartments would be designed with either common or private decks.

Corcoran said they are interested in purchasing 2 E. Wilson and they are working with Austin Dempsey, the real estate broker who represents the owners of 4-6 E. Wilson.

Corcoran proposed a tentative timeline with a real estate closing in mid-summer 2014, followed by up to a year of renovations estimated at $1.2 million, which would include bringing the buildings up to code.

“In order to make it feasible, we need financial assistance from the city,” Ryan said at a recent City Council Committee of the Whole meeting.

Aurora architect Lane Allen, who designed the newly reconstructed William J. Donovan Bridge, designed the architectural renderings for the proposal.

“Mr. Thomle developed this building as an extension of Phipps, that’s why the facades work so well together,” Allen told aldermen.

Dempsey seven months ago pitched an idea for “a combination of the two buildings to create a larger-scale, higher density impact in the corner of the downtown” for a restaurant and retail, but has since withdrawn his proposal.

Michael Grudecki, president of Vignette Home Decor in Batavia, originally pitched his concept for “Tini Lounge,” a small upscale bar that specializes in martinis at the same time. Grudecki told aldermen he is still interested in creating a destination place unique to the area.

“Batavia is lacking what St. Charles and Geneva already have,” Grudecki said.

Aldermen said they will review the plans in mid-January.

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