Owner of 118-year-old building in Elgin plans to proceed with demolition

  • Colorado-based David C. Cook told the city it plans to proceed with the demolition of a 118-year-old building at 850 N. Grove Ave. in Elgin, which the Northeast Neighborhood Association of Elgin and the city want to save.

      Colorado-based David C. Cook told the city it plans to proceed with the demolition of a 118-year-old building at 850 N. Grove Ave. in Elgin, which the Northeast Neighborhood Association of Elgin and the city want to save. Brian Hill | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 1/13/2020 7:59 PM

The company that owns a 118-year-old building in Elgin announced plans to demolish it despite a yearlong effort to save it by the city and the local neighborhood group.

The 24,000-square-foot office building at 850 N. Grove Ave. is owned by the Christian publishing company David C. Cook and has been vacant since 1995, when the company moved its headquarters to Colorado.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

David C. Cook notified the city on Monday morning that it planned to move forward with demolition; the city in turn notified the Northeast Neighborhood Association of Elgin.

"NENA is going to do everything it can to prevent that," said Kerri Kelly, a board member for the association.

The city was "greatly disappointed" at the news, city spokeswoman Molly Gillespie said. "City staff will be conferring with all relevant stakeholders on the next course of action," she said.

David C. Cook spokeswoman Kelli Drury said the company had no comment.

Despite its age, the neoclassical building doesn't have historic landmark status and is not part of the adjacent historic district; either of those would prevent demolition.

The building is on an 8-acre property that includes a 200,000-square-foot warehouse area in back that is used by David C. Cook for publishing and distribution, which the company intends to keep.

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The news comes before a meeting Wednesday morning between the neighborhood group and two people interested in the building: an Elgin resident who wants to set up a marijuana craft growing business and is assessing potential locations, and a Chicago-based developer who lives in Elgin and is considering a plan to preserve much of the building and turn the entire property -- including the warehouse area -- into apartments, Kelly said.

Initially, David C. Cook had planned to demolish the building in November but agreed to wait until this month to give time to the city and the neighborhood group to come up with a plan to repurpose or redevelop it. Company officials said they were not interested in selling only the office building but would have considered selling the entire 8-acre property and moving to a different location.

City staff members gave David C. Cook a list of almost 20 industrial properties that fit the company's parameters for a new location, and the company requested additional information about several of the properties, Gillespie said.

City staff members were researching last year whether the property could be included in the Central Area Tax-Increment Financing District, an area where tax money above a certain point is being funneled into redevelopment rather than local governments.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"The city offered to pay David C. Cook $30,000 to delay demolition until January 2021 while potential redevelopment plans were being solicited and analyzed. Any such redevelopment would have likely contemplated tax-increment financing incentives," Gillespie said.

The company said it spends about $20,000 to heat and cool the building to ensure systems remain functional as per city code. Kane County records show property taxes were $64,296 for 2018.

After the meetings in late fall, "We were very optimistic about (delaying demolition by a year)," Kelly said, "but we had been warned to be wary of them."

Mayor David Kaptain said the company had been trying to sell the building for 15 years.

"It's their building. All they had to do was walk in and get a demolition permit. People have property rights," Kaptain said.

The building has a hole in the roof, some leaks and mold in several spots, and an estimate determined that "updating the interior systems and stabilizing the structure" will cost $3.8 million, according to city documents from last summer.

The city proposed paying for "stopgap" roof repairs, but David C. Cook was not interested.

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