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posted: 1/11/2013 4:56 PM

Naperville 'eyesore' has date with wrecking ball

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  • A downtown Naperville building that long has been deemed an eyesore has a date with the wrecking ball on Jan. 19.

    A downtown Naperville building that long has been deemed an eyesore has a date with the wrecking ball on Jan. 19.
    Daily Herald file photo


Two years ago, after he was sworn in for what he says will be his last term, Naperville Mayor George Pradel pledged the "eyesore" building at 420-440 S. Washington St. would be torn down before he left office.

On Jan. 19, Pradel will make good on his promise: the building has a 7 a.m. date with the wrecking ball.

"I have wanted that thing knocked down for so long because it was such an eyesore," he said. "So many people have complained to me about that building over the years and I wish each and every one of them could take a swing at it with a sledgehammer. Unfortunately we have safety rules that prevent that from happening."

The city has placed electronic message boards on the property that feature a countdown of days remaining to the demolition.

Once the building is down, crews will continue to clear and fill the property that eventually will be turned into open space by the land's new owners, North Central College.

"We're extremely excited to move forward with the demolition of this building to increase open space in the community," said Bill Novack, director of the city's Transportation, Engineering and Development Business Group. "By increasing open space in the downtown area, all of Naperville will benefit."

The building, which dates to the 1930s, is wedged between a Burger King and the DuPage River. It long has stood empty while its condition has deteriorated and the site has become overgrown with vegetation, officials said.

At one point, city officials tried to condemn the land to add on to the Riverwalk, but lost a legal battle for the property. An appellate court reaffirmed that the city didn't make a good-faith attempt to buy the land at a fair price before trying to seize it in 1999.

This time, the property was in foreclosure when North Central bought it from a bank.

As part of the demolition process, flaggers will be used near the location on Washington Street to help direct traffic for any trucks entering and leaving the site. Traffic disruptions are expected to be brief and Washington Street will remain open while the process is taking place. The sidewalk in front of the property also is expected to remain open.

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