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updated: 12/11/2013 9:00 PM

Firm wants Batavia to help fund restaurant, apartments plan

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  • Batavia aldermen are considering two proposals to sell the Thomle Building at 2 E. Wilson St. One is for a martini lounge and business incubator, the other for a restaurant with apartments above.

       Batavia aldermen are considering two proposals to sell the Thomle Building at 2 E. Wilson St. One is for a martini lounge and business incubator, the other for a restaurant with apartments above.
    Susan Sarkauskas | Staff Photographer

 
 

A St. Charles firm is interested in taking the Thomle Building off Batavia's hands, combining it with the building next door and converting them to a restaurant and loft-style apartments.

To do so, however, it wants an undisclosed amount of financial assistance from the city.

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Representatives of Corcoran Commercial Real Estate made their pitch Tuesday night to the Batavia City Council, at a joint committees of the whole meeting.

Theirs is the third proposal the city has heard for the site. The first two were presented in May. One was for a mix of retail and residential use. The other was for a martini lounge and a business-incubator space.

The martini lounge operator, Michael Grudecki, is still interested, but the other proposal has been withdrawn.

Corcoran's proposal calls for buying the Phipps Building, 4-6 E. Wilson St., and the Thomle Building at 2 E. Wilson St. The basement could be used for storage and offices for the restaurant, the first floor for a sit-down restaurant, and the second floor for apartments. The plan calls for building decks for the restaurants and the apartments to the west and south sides of the building.

Ryan Corcoran, the firm's president and chief executive officer, said financial aid is needed, in particular to bring the Thomle Building up to current building code. Among other things, it needs new electrical wiring and fire sprinklers.

"Significant dollars will be needed to renovate to get a (restaurant) tenant ... that will be able to afford the overhead," Corcoran said. A formal request for renovation financial assistance has not been submitted, assistant city administrator Jason Bajor said Wednesday.

The financial aspect of Grudecki's proposal has been available on the city's website for six months, since he made his initial presentation. Corcoran's proposal has not been posted because it is incomplete; a pro forma on financial matters won't be submitted until Corcoran reaches a sale deal with the owner of the Phipps Building.

Grudecki proposes to open the Tini Lounge. It would be open from 4 p.m. to midnight Wednesdays through Saturdays, he told the council. Space in the basement could be rented to home-based businesses looking to expand and perhaps to a small shop selling refreshments to users of the Fox River Trail. He has asked the city for a loan, with 20 percent forgivable a year; a five-year lease-to-purchase agreement, with 90 percent of the rent going to the purchase; or for the city to sell it at half of current market value and carry a 30-year mortgage.

Grudecki has started a Facebook campaign for the bar, and submitted petitions to the city council showing support for his idea. As of Wednesday, the page had 488 "likes."

The city bought the abandoned building for $75,000 in 1997. It put in $100,000 worth of repairs. The Batavia MainStreet downtown improvement organization remodeled the interior and had its offices there for several years. Then the city rented it out as a business-incubator site. One of its goals is to get the property back to producing property tax.

Built in 1878, the Thomle Building used to house a station for the Chicago Aurora and Elgin Railroad line along the Fox River.

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