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updated: 3/26/2014 7:26 AM

Shodeen buys Mill Race Inn in Geneva

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  • The Mill Race Inn in Geneva in 2007. It closed in 2011.

       The Mill Race Inn in Geneva in 2007. It closed in 2011.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer, 2007

  • The front entrance to the Mill Race Inn restaurant in Geneva. The restaurant closed in 2011.

       The front entrance to the Mill Race Inn restaurant in Geneva. The restaurant closed in 2011.
    RICK WEST | Staff Photographer, 2009

 
 

The iconic Mill Race Inn in Geneva has been bought by real estate developer Shodeen Inc.

The Geneva-based firm announced the purchase Tuesday afternoon.

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According to a news release, Shodeen has not determined future use of the land.

"Regardless of the final use we are committed to preserving the historical integrity of the site by incorporating the blacksmith portion of the current building with its historical significance into the planning process," the release stated.

"Shodeen's reputation and quality is evidenced throughout Geneva and has helped shape our community to become the envy of cities throughout the Midwest," said Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns, in the statement. "The prospect of working with them on the redevelopment of the Mill Race Inn is exciting on every level."

A purchase price was not disclosed for the almost 1.4-acre site.

The oldest part of the current building is an 1846 manufactory. That building is where Ann Forsyth opened the Mill Race Inn tearoom in 1933.

The restaurant fell in to trouble after its lower section was flooded in August 2007 by the Fox River. That part, which housed the Mill Grill, did not reopen

It closed in January 2011, and Plaza Bank foreclosed on its $1.3 million mortgage.

According to the Geneva Township assessor's records, the site sold for $1.7 million in 2004. In 2013, the assessor estimated it had a market value of $1.15 million; its historic high was $2.8 million, in 2009.

According to a report developed for Geneva's Historic Preservation Commission, a small part of the complex might meet criteria for placement on the National Register of Historic Places.

A blacksmith shop opened on the property in 1842; there's no record of what happened to it. The second building opened in 1846 as a manufactory, and the rest of the complex was added on throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, surrounding it. Ann Forsyth opened the Mill Race Inn tearoom in the manufactory in 1933.

The 1846 building has most of its original walls, and there is no evidence its cellar has ever flooded, according to the report.

The city's Downtown/Station Area Master Plan, developed in 2012, identifies the Mill Race Inn as a prime redevelopment site. It suggests it would be a good place for a mixed-use development including stores, restaurants and a banquet hall. "I'm looking forward to planning, not only with the Shodeen family but also Shodeen Inc. something that will enhance the natural beauty of the east shoreline of the Fox River," Burns said in a phone interview Tuesday evening.

Shodeen has used all or parts of historic and older buildings before. The banquet hall at the Herrington Inn is a former 1896 city pump house, and other parts of the hotel were built with flagstone from the Rock Stone Creamery that operated on the site. Its Dodson Place shopping and office complex in Geneva includes part of the former Community Hospital. The Geneva on the Dam complex is in a former sadiron factory, and Fox Island Square in St. Charles was built in the former Howell Dinette Furniture Co. building.

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