Batavia aldermen indicated they are willing to consider a developer's idea to turn the Campana building in to a mix of market-rate and low-income apartments.
They didn't formally vote because it was just an initial land-use plan hearing designed for the developer, Evergreen Real Estate Group, to judge the council's interest and decide whether to apply to build it.
"I think this is an opportunity for both our communities (Batavia and Geneva) to do something with that intersection," Alderman Alan Wolff said.
The building is on the northern edge of Batavia.
Evergreen said it would cost about $30 million to put in 80 apartments. Sixteen would charge whatever the market bears for rent; the rest would be income-restricted.
Several aldermen said they have concerns about traffic safety at Fabyan Parkway and Route 31, including that there are no sidewalks. That could be dangerous for children who would want to walk to Western Avenue Elementary School, or down to forest preserve land along the Fox River, they said.
The council chamber overflowed with people interested in the project. The first seven speakers, including representatives of local churches and the Association for Individual Development, praised the idea, citing the waiting lists for housing for the disabled and those of low income. Vouchers for low-income housing in Batavia are handled through the Aurora Housing Authority.
But Geneva Township Assessor Denise LaCure suggested that Batavia residents be given first preference for the low-income housing.
"If you could guarantee that the people are going to come from this community, and guarantee the safety of the surrounding community, then that would be great," And, she said, "The first thing that comes to mind is Batavia Apartments. It's kind of a blight on the community."
Alderman Dave Brown, chairman of the committee, then cut her off.
"There's no conversation here about the type of individuals that would live here," he said.
And city attorney Kevin Drendel said Batavia could face a lawsuit if it made its decision about the project based on the kind of people they think would live there. He cited a Department of Justice discrimination case being pursued against a southern suburb, accused of doing just that.