Distillery not a fit for Naperville's old Nichols Library

Updated 6/18/2018 4:08 PM

The partners who want to open a craft distillery in Naperville are still seeking a spot for their business because the local landmark old Nichols Library isn't it.

Derek Krauss and Joe Rehbein said they met with representatives of the owners of the 120-year-old building to discuss space needs for the distillery they plan to open under the name Crooked Wheel.


After a planned restoration that is set to begin when owners Dwight Avram and Jeff Brown receive a construction permit, the library is expected to offer about 2,700 square feet for use by a "really unique restaurant concept" or another tenant, spokeswoman Lissa Druss said.

Crooked Wheel would need more than that, especially in the height category.

The former library building, a Richardsonian Romanesque-style structure of yellow brick and stone, is listed as a story and a half. But Krauss said it doesn't meet the height requirements of one of the columns of distilling equipment that he and Rehbein plan to use, which is about 20 feet tall and needs additional clearance for piping and ventilation.

"One of the bigger challenges is trying to find a space that can accommodate the equipment," Krauss said. "After talking in detail about what their plans were for the building and how much space would be available, it doesn't look like it's going to fit."

Old library owners came to the same conclusion and now are working with Caton Commercial Real Estate Group to find tenants for the historic building and the rest of the commercial spaces they're building as part of a mixed-use facility called Central Park Place.

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The development is designed to include roughly 7,900 square feet of new first-floor commercial space, which Druss said will be leased to businesses that "complement and enhance" the mix of restaurants and shops already in downtown Naperville. On top of that will be three stories of condos and below it will be a parking garage.

While the old library won't be the future home of Crooked Wheel, distillery entrepreneurs say they're still exploring options to start their business near the downtown dining and night life scene.

"Obviously, the library would have been perfect," Krauss said. "But at the end of the day, it's not going to work out."

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