Batavia High School's building trades classes partner with Boardwalk Shops
Marking their two-year partnership with the Boardwalk Shops, Batavia High School students put hammer to nail on two new Boardwalk Shops April 9. Both partners have seen great returns on their investment.
Thirty-five students from the school's Building Trades II classes assembled two Boardwalk Shops on the site of this successful economic development project at 114 E. Wilson St. in downtown Batavia. The students had built the frame kits in their shop inside of Batavia High School over the past couple of months and the school district maintenance team moved them down to the construction site for final assembly.
Jamie Saam, Boardwalk Shops manager, credits the volunteer team at Batavia MainStreet for the success of this build. She says that Batavia MainStreet board president Bob Hansen has been the driving force of the construction with assistance from Dave Brown, longtime Batavia Alderman and now Kane County Board member. Hansen forged a relationship with Bronco Meeks, the Building Trades teacher at Batavia High School, and has carried the project forward.
The Building Trades program built homes in the community for many years. Due to the declining housing market in the late 2000s, they were forced to become creative with their hands-on work projects for the students. The students began building "small-scale homes" in the shop, then demolish them at the end of the semester. When the idea to partner to build something that would become a usable product was proposed, Assistant Principal Brian Gamlin was excited about the opportunity.
"The Building Trades Program at BHS experienced declining enrollment after the real hands-on projects out in the community ended in the late 2000s. We were looking for a way to transform the program to meet the demands of the construction industry," Gamlin said. "The partnership with Batavia MainStreet and the Boardwalk Shops has helped us develop a robust and full program again. This semester we had two full sections of Building Trades II for a total of 40 students."
Batavia Public School hopes to continue the partnership with Batavia MainStreet in years to come. With the ninth and 10th shops being built this year, there is still room for the expansion of at least two more shops next year.
Saam said, "Through this economic development program, seven new businesses that operated out of the Boardwalk Shops last year have expanded out of their spaces to be brick and mortar renters in Batavia in 2021. That is a true indicator of the success of these incubator spaces."
Beth Walker, executive director of Batavia MainStreet says, "With total sales of over $330,000 last season, the Boardwalk Shop businesses were a real bright spot in downtown during a difficult time for local business."
The Boardwalk Shops will open with 10 new businesses this season on May 28. For more information on the Boardwalk Shops and all things happening in downtown Batavia, visit downtownbatavia.com.