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Aurora to seek  proposals for old Elks Lodge building

The historic downtown AurorElks Club building features Mayan architecture Wednesday Jan. 25 2012 corner Stolp Street BentAvenue. | Steven Buyansky~Sun-Times

The historic downtown Aurora Elks Club building features Mayan architecture on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2012 at the corner of Stolp Street and Benton Avenue. | Steven Buyansky~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: February 20, 2014 6:52AM

AURORA — Seize the Future officials will soon be looking for developers interested in redeveloping the former Elks Lodge property in the city’s downtown.

The group’s officials are seeking approval from the city to release a request for proposals to redevelop the old Elks Lodge at 77 S. Stolp Ave. in Aurora.

“Seize the Future officials would like to see an adaptive reuse, market-driven project for the Elks Building,” Catherine Stieg, Seize the Future communications coordinator, said Friday.

Seize the Future provides economic development services to the city of Aurora.

Previously the Elks building was being looked at for work space, Stieg said.

The previous developer, Steve Arwady, showed initial interest in the property in 2009. Arwady is currently pursuing other projects, according to Stieg.

The building, which formerly served as the Aurora Elks Lodge, was built in 1926, according to city records. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

It was built in 1926 by Zimmerman, Saxe and Zimmerman. The Elks building in downtown Aurora is one of the few examples of the use of Mayan Revival in the United States, city officials have said. The architects altered their original, more traditional design when they were inspired by the recently discovered Mayan temples in Central America.

The local Elks Chapter 705 formed in 1901, and the building at Stolp Avenue and Benton Street was their second home, dedicated on Nov. 17, 1926. The Elks operated a 40-room hotel in the building, which included bowling lanes in the basement.

In 1993, Island Inn Corp. bought the building and spent $1.7 million to convert it to the Riverwalk Inn, a hotel.

The city of Aurora purchased the building in 1999 for $443,000 at a judicial lien sale after previous owners defaulted on a loan, according to property records. The city also paid a $304,800 second mortgage as part of the deal.

The city tried to sell the building in 2002, but later abandoned plans to sell, according to a 2002 Beacon-News article.

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