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updated: 4/24/2017 4:13 PM

Apartments proposed for Batavia's historic Campana building

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  • A developer has received an allocation of federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits from the state for a plan to convert much of the Campana building into housing.

      A developer has received an allocation of federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits from the state for a plan to convert much of the Campana building into housing.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • The Batavia City Council will hear about a plan to convert much of the Campana building into apartments at a committee of the whole meeting on May 2.

      The Batavia City Council will hear about a plan to convert much of the Campana building into apartments at a committee of the whole meeting on May 2.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
and Dave Heun
ssarkauskas@dailyherald.com
 

The landmark Campana factory building in Batavia could be filled with income-restricted apartments under a $30 million proposal the city council will begin reviewing next week.

Evergreen Real Estate Group wants to put 80 apartments in the building, with at least 64 designated as "affordable" housing, according to Scott Buening, Batavia's community development director.

It has received an allocation of federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to help finance the plan, according to the Illinois Housing Development Authority. It has not said how much.

The building

Architect David Block, director of development for Evergreen, noticed the Campana building when traveling through the area when Evergreen worked on the redevelopment of the old St. Charles Hospital in Aurora.

The building opened in 1936 as home to the Campana Co., which made cosmetics including lipsticks, hand lotions and balms.

It was remodeled in 1999 to house offices. Additions hold a mattress shop and a golf instruction business. They would likely stay, according to Buening.

The building is on the National Register of Historic Places. It has Art Deco and Bauhaus architectural elements.

The building is beautiful, but something of a "white elephant," Block said. Masonry is crumbling, some of the glass blocks are falling apart, and it needs a new roof and mechanical systems, he said.

"We will restore to what it looked like" originally, Block said. The company would apply for federal historic-preservation tax credits to do some of the work, he said.

"This is a building for working families," Block said.

The project

If the project is approved, tenants could include people who have received vouchers from the Aurora Housing Authority, according to Buening.

Joel Strassman, planning and zoning officer for Batavia, said Evergreen proposes six three-bedroom apartments; the rest would be one- and two-bedroom units.

Parking would be added, but the circle drive and much of the large front lawn would be kept, Strassman said.

According to the state housing authority, the tax credits are for projects that serve low-income households. Low income is defined as making no more than 60 percent of the median household income for the area, and depends on how many people are in the household. Currently, Kane County's median household income, for a four-person household, is $79,000, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. So a four-person family with an income of $47,400 or less would be eligible for the apartments, without using vouchers.

"We do feel like it is serving the needs (of workers) in the Fox River Valley," Block said.

Aldermen will conduct an initial land-use plan hearing at a committee of the whole meeting at 7:30 p.m. May 2. The developer would present the general plan, and aldermen would comment. The public will be allowed to speak about it, too.

"This does not establish entitlements at any level, and it's not anything the city council will vote on," Strassman said.

More specific details would come later, if the developer proceeds with a formal request for approval. The city's Historic Preservation Commission would have to rule on work done to the exterior.

Evergreen owns the Buena Vista Tower, Buena Vista townhouses and Buena Vista Apartments in Elgin, among other properties.

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