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Article posted: 7/10/2013 5:30 AM

Developer proposes industrial park in residential Batavia

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An area on Kirk Road once designated for 242 townhouses and some stores is being eyed for an industrial park.

A developer Tuesday took the temperature of the Batavia City Council about changing the zoning for what was going to be the Prairie Commons mixed-use subdivision on 56 acres at the southeast corner of Kirk Road and Wind Energy Pass.

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The residential/commercial plan received final approval in 2007 after eight years of discussions by the city. But other than running city electrical and water lines to the site, nothing was done. The property ended up in probate, then the real estate market crashed, and the property was put up for sale.

"We don't see it as a good commercial or retail development. It's too far north from the tollway," said Barry Missner of the Chicago-based Missner Group, which is interested in the property.

The seller's agent, from Land Partners LLC, said there is little interest in building multifamily owner-occupied housing in the area. If any kind of housing were to be built, it would likely be single-family detached houses, he said.

Missner proposes building a 500,000-square-foot building and a 300,000-square-foot building. They could be leased to one or multiple tenants.

The site is attractive because it is close to Interstate 88, said Brian Kling, Missner's broker. The electrical supply and reliability from Batavia is also a plus, he said.

Scott Buening, the city's community development director, said the land most likely would be designated for light industrial use.

First Ward Alderman Garran Sparks, in whose ward the land lies, has reservations.

"I'm worried that what this is going to do is enact the 'not in my backyard' syndrome. This is right in the middle of residential," he said. Apartments and single-family detached homes lie to the south. Detached houses are also to the west.

"That's why we have a comprehensive plan, is to maintain the living areas and the commercial areas so we have some sort of segregation or some type of transition to each," Sparks said.

"I just don't know if it belongs there."

The council, meeting as a joint committees of the whole, took no action. Several aldermen wanted more information about the property taxes an industrial park could generate against what is coming in now and what could come in if houses were built.

Alderman Lisa Clark asked why developers are not interested in building closer to Batavia's existing industrial parks, farther north on Kirk Road. She cited property at Kirk and Fabyan Parkway. Kling said it is the access to I-88; fuel costs are driving decisions, he said. But Clark was incredulous that one mile could make that much of a difference.

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