While Raymond Judd lived in St. Charles during the early 1900s, his company became one of the prime cattle dealers in the nation. Now a new developer wants to put Judd's historic mansion out to pasture.
Michael Ciampi of SGC Builders pitched a plan to St. Charles aldermen last week that involves demolishing the Sixth Avenue mansion and erecting 13 attached townhouses in its place. Ciampi estimated it would cost up to $1 million to gut and relocate the mansion somewhere else on the property to clear the way for the rest of the development. That's more than he's willing to spend to save the 136-year-old building.
"It encumbers the whole development of the site," Ciampi told aldermen. "The size of the mansion itself is very large. There have been some points made about possibly moving the building. Talking with experts, that is very, very challenging and very, very expensive."
Ciampi's plan would bring new development to site that has sat vacant for several years. The historic house became a nursing home in the 1940s after Judd died. The home closed in the 1970s and became a private residence until 2002 when the Riverside Community Church took over the property.
Church leaders performed some renovations on the mansion but sold the house to developers in 2006. Aldermen later approved construction of high-end townhouses, with the caveat the mansion must remain. Only one townhouse building was completed.
Ciampi's concept plan is the first activity on the site since the housing bubble burst, but aldermen indicated they don't like the idea of demolishing the Raymond Judd home.
"This is a landmark property," Alderman Ron Silkaitis said. "I'm not moving forward until I see an assessment that says it's not worth keeping the building."
Alderman Jim Martin said he'll have to see even more than that. Martin and Alderman Jo Krieger voted against the last townhouse plan for the site. Ciampi's plan would construct even more townhouses than that plan but with smaller sizes and less expensive prices.
"We voted 'no' on the original concept," Martin said. "It's inconceivable that we would vote to approve any plan less than that."
The feedback does not kill Ciampi's plan, but it does send him back to the drawing board. He is still under contract to purchase the property from the bank.