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Article updated: 12/18/2012 12:35 PM

Wheeling will buy Milwaukee Ave. building

By Deborah Donovan

Another strike landed against a doomed historic Wheeling building Monday when the village board voted to purchase a neighboring property to create a parcel attractive for development.

The board approved a contract to purchase 119 S. Milwaukee Ave. for $560,000 from Dean Svigos, who also owns the shopping center with Fresh Foods about a block away. A tax increment financing fund will provide money for the purchase. The village also used more than $400,000 of TIF funds in 2006 to buy the two-story brick building next door at 115 S. Milwaukee Ave.

Trustee Bill Hein has objected to demolishing 115 S. Milwaukee, built in 1916 as a butcher shop. One of its later owners was Hans Schmidt, a German immigrant who became village president in the 1940s. Hein, also vice president of the Wheeling Historical Society, has expressed regret that most of the old buildings on Milwaukee Avenue have disappeared.

The village plans to close on 119 S. Milwaukee at the end of January and needs to investigate the cost of fixing any environmental issues, according to a memo from James Ferolo, village attorney.

City Manager Jon Sfondilis said the purchase will create a parcel large enough to be marketable for redevelopment.

"It also will remove two blighted buildings that have been vacant for quite some time. This is exactly what TIF funds are meant for, the purchase of land and removal of blighted buildings," he said.

The contract with Svigos also calls for the shopping center to provide electric and water service to a clock tower plaza the village is building at the corner of Dundee Road and Milwaukee Avenue in front of the shopping center, according to Ferolo's memo.

Mary Papantos, a candidate for trustee in the April election, spoke against the purchase.

"Many buildings are vacant along this route already," she said. "I for one can think of better ways to spend the money."

Whether a September bid of $50,000 to demolish the two buildings remains viable will depend on when the village closes on 119 S. Milwaukee, Sfondilis said after the meeting.

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