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updated: 5/16/2013 2:39 PM

Batavia mulling offers to buy, redevelop downtown building

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  • A martini bar and combining with the building next door to create shops and apartments are two proposals for the 135-year-old, city-owned Thomle Building at 2 E. Wilson Street in downtown Batavia.

       A martini bar and combining with the building next door to create shops and apartments are two proposals for the 135-year-old, city-owned Thomle Building at 2 E. Wilson Street in downtown Batavia.
    Susan Sarkauskas | Staff Photographer

 
 

The Thomle Building, a 135-year-old riverside building in downtown Batavia, could house a martini bar.

Or, it could be combined with the building next door and turned in to shops and apartments.

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Batavia aldermen Monday reviewed two proposals to take the building at 2 E. Wilson St. off the city's hands. City officials want it returned to the property tax rolls.

The Tini Lounge would occupy most of the building, according to a proposal from Vignette Home Decor of Batavia. Some space could also be rented to home-based businesses looking to expand, such as massage therapists or accountants, possibly in a partnership with Batavia MainStreet, Vignette's proposal notes.

Vignette proposes three options for buying the building: A city loan for the purchase, forgiving 20 percent of the loan each year the business remains solvent; a five-year lease-to-purchase, with 90 percent of the rent to be applied to the down payment; a city sale of the building for half price with a 30-year mortgage.

The other plan was proposed by 246 East Wilson LLC, a corporation that would be formed by several Batavia property owners, including Batavia Enterprises.

The LLC would buy the Thomle Building from the city and 4 E. Wilson from a private owner, and combine them. It would put shops or a restaurant on the first floor, and six apartments on the second floor. The basement could be rented to a business such as a printer. Five of the apartments would have one bedroom; the sixth would be a studio.

The LLC would pay the city $50,000 for the Thomle Building.

The group also would be counting on assistance from the city's tax increment financing district, in which property tax payments to local governments are frozen for a specific time, but the higher taxes generated by the improved property is funneled into public improvements such as roads and infrastructure.

"There is no return on investment without the assistance of the TIF (tax-increment financing district)," the LLC application states.

The city paid $75,000 for the abandoned building in 1997, and tried to sell it in 1998. It put more than $100,000 in to repairs, and volunteers for Batavia MainStreet remodeled the interior in exchange for being able to use the space for five years. It was also rented out as a business incubator; the last business, Simonetti Studios, left in July 2012. The current budget set aside $50,000 for utilities and maintenance.

It was built in 1878, and once was a terminal on the Chicago Aurora and Elgin Railroad line.

The proposals can be viewed on the city's website at cityofbatavia.net/content/articlefiles/11152-THOMLE.pdf.

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