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Batavia rejects stronger historic status for downtown building

Updated: March 23, 2013 6:14AM

BATAVIA — The City Council has decided against upgrading the historical classification of a 90-year old downtown building.

“The building itself is nothing more than an old frame building,” said Alderman David Brown, chairman of the Community Development Committee.

The Historic Preservation Commission last month had recommended that the city upgrade the historic property classification status from “contributing” to “significant” for the two-story wood structure at the northeast corner of North River and State streets. That change would mean there would be another layer of scrutiny added before any changes could be made to the building.

Alternative plan

But Mayor Jeff Schielke had suggested the historic advisory board reconsider its recommendation to upgrade the structure’s historical value. Schielke said he researched past uses of the building and found it has “no historical importance.”

Schielke said the building probably would stand in the way of a “greater and grander plan or idea” for North River Street. North River underwent major streetscape improvements last summer.

Aldermen Dawn Tenuta and Michael O’Brien expressed some reluctance about voting against the historic advisory board.

“I am trying to understand the commission’s (position). We look to those people as experts, so this is challenging,” Tenuta said.

Building purchase

In other action, aldermen voted unanimously to purchase a 2,500-square-foot brick industrial type building at 111 E. Wilson St., near existing city-owned properties. The building was purchased for $179,000 from Phil Elfstrom, former Kane County Board chairman.

City Administrator Bill McGrath said the property is located between the parking deck and old First Baptist Church that the city owns.

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