Controversial Campana apartments plan clears big hurdle

  • The Batavia Plan Commission has recommended a developer be allowed to put apartments in to the Campana building, at Batavia Avenue and Fabyan Parkway.

      The Batavia Plan Commission has recommended a developer be allowed to put apartments in to the Campana building, at Batavia Avenue and Fabyan Parkway. Rick West | Staff Photographer, April 2017

Updated 9/7/2017 5:53 AM

The plan to put apartments in to the former Campana factory building in Batavia advanced Wednesday, getting the nod of approval from the Batavia Plan Commission.

The commission unanimously recommended the city council approve the request to put 80 apartments in the building at Batavia Avenue and Fabyan Parkway. The property already is zoned to allow mixed uses, including housing and commercial. It recommended the council grant the necessary zoning amendments and approved the design, including landscaping, parking and the addition of operable windows.


"I struggled with it, I'll tell you," Chairman Tom Lalonde said. "I have mixed feelings about staying true to the historic character and the viability of a building in our times. I think it is a historically significant building; it is one of a kind, and we are very fortunate to have it in our community."

He noted that, normally, the city would require more amenities for residents of multifamily housing, including private patios or balconies. And windows being added for at least 20 of the units, on the front of the building, won't give residents much of a view, because they are being designed to be hidden by landscaping or other measures. That's because the appearance of the building -- which is a local landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places -- is governed by local, state and federal historic preservation rules. Those same rules also govern the large lawn and an oval driveway in front of the building. The building is noted for its glass-block windows, which don't open.

The developer, Evergreen Real Estate Group, is using historic-preservation tax credits for part of its financing. The building was constructed in the 1930s, for a cosmetics factory.

The commission put several conditions on its recommendation. Some, such as building a sidewalk along the roads, need approval from other agencies, such as the Kane County and state transportation departments. Kane County controls Fabyan Parkway, while the state controls Route 31. The plan commission also wants a sidewalk put around the oval drive, extending to Batavia Avenue.

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At least 64 of the units would be designated for affordable housing, including accepting housing vouchers administered by the Aurora Housing Authority. Its financing includes $12 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits.

The city's Historic Preservation Commission is due to discuss Monday whether to issue a Certificate of Appropriateness for the plan.

Aldermen will discuss the proposal at a Sept. 19 committee-of-the-whole meeting.

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