Demolition of Mill Race Inn in Geneva draws close

 
 
Updated 8/11/2016 4:16 PM
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  • A sign taped to the front door of the Mill Race Inn in Geneva in 2011 informed patrons of its closing.

      A sign taped to the front door of the Mill Race Inn in Geneva in 2011 informed patrons of its closing. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Fencing has gone up around the former Mill Race Inn, as the owner has applied for permission to demolish most of it.

      Fencing has gone up around the former Mill Race Inn, as the owner has applied for permission to demolish most of it. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • Fencing has gone up around the former Mill Race Inn in preparation for demolition. The restaurant closed in 2011.

      Fencing has gone up around the former Mill Race Inn in preparation for demolition. The restaurant closed in 2011. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

  • A longtime favorite Geneva dining spot, the Mill Race Inn closed in 2011. The property owner has applied for a demolition permit, intending to knock down all but an 1846 manufactory building around which the rest of the building was built.

      A longtime favorite Geneva dining spot, the Mill Race Inn closed in 2011. The property owner has applied for a demolition permit, intending to knock down all but an 1846 manufactory building around which the rest of the building was built. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

Plans to raze the Mill Race Inn restaurant in Geneva are picking up speed, even though no plan has been submitted for redeveloping the site.

Shodeen Inc. has fenced off the site at 4 E. State St. and asked the city for a demolition permit.

The compound has been vacant since 2011 when the restaurant closed after 78 years in business.

Although it is not in the city's historic district, officials hope that at least part of the building can be saved: an 1846 timber and limestone manufactory, where the original tea room opened in 1933.

Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, additions enveloped the manufactory. Its original walls remain, according to a 2014 study of the site by the city. The manufactory is likely the only part of the building that could meet criteria for being placed on the National Register of Historic Places, according to the report

That's if it can stay standing and be rehabilitated and included in a new development, something that will be determined once the additions are gone, according to city community development director David DeGroot.

Demolition can't start until the state Environmental Protection Agency signs off on whether there are any hazardous materials on-site and how they would be removed.

The building's lower level was extensively damaged in 2007, when the Fox River flooded it. That part never reopened.

A bank foreclosed on the property and Shodeen bought it in 2014. It has met with city officials to discuss ideas for the site, DeGroot said.

The city's Downtown/Station Area Master Plan identifies the parcel as an "opportunity site," and suggests it would be ideal for a banquet hall or a restaurant. It is in a new tax-increment financing district, meaning property taxes above what are now collected could be used to pay for work to redevelop the property.

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