Apartments, new restaurant planned for former Gasthaus in Elgin
A downtown property owner has added the former Gasthaus Zur Linde to his portfolio and plans to renovate the building to accommodate a new restaurant and pub, and turn the upstairs into five apartments.
Pat Sakolari said he bought the property -- which comprises 11 N. Grove Ave., 13 N. Grove Ave. and 15 N. Grove Ave. -- about two months ago. The Gasthaus closed in late 2015.
Sakolari, who lives in Hampshire, said he owns several properties downtown, including the buildings on Chicago Street that contain the Elgin Public House and Topnotch Tattoo. He also owns Alexander Plumbing Contractor in Elgin and did plumbing work at the former Gasthaus for years, he said. He decided to buy the property about two months ago after having conversations with the now-former owner, he said.
"I've been buying buildings in downtown Elgin for a long time ... It's not something hard to pull me toward," Sakolari said. "It's a nice building and we're going to make it a nicer building."
The former Gasthaus is adjacent to the historic Tower Building, which about a year ago was converted into 44 residential units. Sakolari said that also was a big reason for his decision. "Downtown Elgin's come a long way," he said.
Elgin City Council members voted unanimously Wednesday to approve conditional use for the property, which would have four, two-bedroom apartments and a one-bedroom apartment on the second floor. The dwellings' square footage is below what's typically required by code, but is consistent with the size of dwellings in the Tower Building, Community Development Director Marc Mylott said.
The council also voted to give Sakolari a grant of $97,617 to help with the cost of improving the facade and install a fire sprinkler system compliant with residential use. The money comes from tax-increment financing funds, which are designed to be funneled into redevelopment.
The council is expected to give final approval on both measures at its next meeting. Councilman Terry Gavin thanked Sakolari for his commitment to Elgin. The project "is going to make that area, that block, look tremendously better," Gavin said.
The facade renovation was designed by city preservation planner Christen Sundquist, and the lowest estimate came in at $146,300, city officials said. The city has funded past facade improvements at 35 percent of cost, or $51,205.
The three-story fire sprinkler system, including the basement area, is estimated to cost $61,198. The fire sprinkler assistance grant program, designed to help property owners who convert building into residential, covers $46,412 of that, or $4 per square foot.
The entire renovation project is estimated at $805,000 to $900,000, city officials said.
Sakolari said he's been in talks with two prospective restaurant owners, one from the Fox Valley area and one from Milwaukee, but no deal has been set. The remodeling will be finalized once a tenant is in place. "We won't do the fine-tuning until we know the theme" for the restaurant, he said.