At least a dozen would-be buyers have called about the Thomle Building, 2 E. Wilson St., Batavia, after an August newspaper article about the city listing it on a commercial real estate subscription service for $160,000, officials said.
But on Tuesday, aldermen indicated they don't necessarily want to sell the riverside building to just anybody -- they would prefer to receive requests for proposals of what buyers would do with the two-story building.
The city bought the building for $75,000 in 1995 through eminent domain because it was run-down. It fixed up the building and, for a while, rented it to the Batavia MainStreet organization. More recently, it has been used it as a business incubator. It offers one-year below-market-rent leases. A photography studio, a kitchen cabinetry firm and a gift shop have used it.
According to a memo on the building, Batavia MainStreet and the Batavia Chamber of Commerce favor keeping it as a business incubator. Alderman Susan Stark suggested perhaps those entities would like to buy it and take over that program. She also pointed out that several businesses similar to the gift shop had opened without receiving lower rent or other city incentives.
Mayor Jeff Schielke said he thinks the spot would be ideal for a restaurant, given its river view.
Alderman Dan Chanzit questioned whether any of the people now calling the city are serious buyers. He suggested the value could rise.
But Alderman Marty Callahan said the time has come to let it go, especially since a long-vacant storefront adjacent to it is now occupied.
"Let the market decide," he said.
It was built in 1878, and it housed a station for the Chicago Aurora and Elgin Railroad.
A St. Charles firm offered to take the building off the city's hands in 2014 if the city was willing to supply $590,000 in incentives for it fix the building and to buy the building next door.