Elgin Tower Building tenants moving out after water leak

The iconic Elgin Tower Building — whose sale to a Wisconsin-based company is still pending — is down to six tenants, after a water leak last Friday prompted two tenants to move out.

The Downtown Neighborhood Association of Elgin moved out Tuesday from the 1929 art deco building at 100 E. Chicago St., DNA Executive Director Deirdre White said.

It is now housed in the Leath Building at 166 E. Chicago St. until a permanent location can be found, she said. The DNA had planned to move anyway, but the water leak accelerated the process, she added.

The DNA did not pay rent to The Stickling Foundation, which owns the Elgin Tower Building, White said.

“It was an extremely generous offer. It was wonderful that we were able to utilize that space for so long,” she said.

The leak, caused by last week's subzero weather, didn't affect any tenants besides the DNA, which was located on the first floor, building manager and director Neal Pitcher said.

Still, attorney Julio Valdez said that was enough for him to decide to move his office to the Elgin Commerce Building at 40 DuPage St.

The 15-story Elgin Tower Building — the tallest in the city — has had problems with its manually operated elevators, heating, and at least one previous water leak, he said.

“Friday, unfortunately, was the last straw for us,” he said. “I love this building. It's disappointing that we're going to have to move.”

The building once housed 32 tenants, Pitcher said. “It's an old building, it has problems,” he said.

Although multiple tenants, like the Elgin Technology Center, moved out in the last few months, one tenant, an independent artist, moved in about three months ago, Pitcher said.

Gorman & Co. entered into an agreement with The Stickling Foundation in April 2013 to buy the building, and now wants to extend that through the end of November, Pitcher said.

“They are looking at everything — windows and elevators and everything else — that it would take to make it into a first-class building,” he said.

Gorman is in talks regarding financing, including federal and state historic tax credits, to turn the Elgin Tower Building into high-end rental units, said Gorman Chief Operating Officer Tom Capp.

“It's a complicated transaction,” Capp said. “It's a beautiful building and we're pursuing it aggressively. We think it could be a very good project.”

Gorman's philosophy is that revitalizing anemic downtowns is all about bringing residents to live there, Capp said. The company has a track record of rehabbing historic buildings.

“Getting people down there 24 hours a day is what we believe is important,” he said.

Neither Pitcher nor Capp could immediately provide details about the pending contract.

City officials last year said the price tag was $1.1 million to $1.2 million, with a total investment by Gorman 10 times that amount.

  The Elgin Tower Building is down to six tenants after a water leak last Friday caused two to move out this week. RICK WEST/
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