Downtown redevelopment moving forward in Batavia
By Linda Girardi For The Beacon-News November 12, 2012 12:56PM
Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke
Updated: December 16, 2012 6:31AM
BATAVIA — In the first redevelopment effort of Batavia’s downtown in the 1960s, the city purchased a prime piece of land on West Wilson Street with intentions of having a practice burn to demolish an old horse stable.
But on the night of high school graduation, somebody went downtown and decided to set it on fire.
“It was instant urban renewal,” Mayor Jeff Schielke said, drawing laughter from a group of business people, at his recent State of the City address.
Schielke focused on the present day redevelopment of the downtown in his presentation to members of the Batavia Chamber of Commerce.
He said McDonald’s decades ago purchased the parcel where the old horse delivery stable was located and is currently rebuilding to replace the 1978 store at 125 W. Wilson St. The fast-food giant plans to open around Nov. 20.
Schielke said the city continues to address topography issues where Batavia Enterprises has proposed to build a new Walgreens on the site of the old Swanson’s Hardware across the street.
“The presence of a Walgreens in the downtown is something I think we should keep,” the mayor said to applause.
Schielke said city staff has recommended to the City Council that the timing of the streetscape project on Houston Street be delayed a year to 2014 in order to move forward with the Wilson Street improvements.
The city was awarded a $1.5 million Illinois Transportation Enhancement grant for a Wilson Street signal interconnect system to improve the flow of traffic. It is important to utilize those funds, Schielke said, because federal and state funding in the future is unlikely.
“It will be an interesting time as the nation deals with the federal Balanced Budget Act of 2013. In some respects it is a scary, dark time from the country’s perspective because people I talk to don’t really know where it is going,” the mayor said.
Schielke also announced Open Range Southwest Grill in Sugar Grove will be opening a second restaurant in the former Lodge on the Fox restaurant at Houston and Water streets.