Controversial Campana building plan gets OK from preservation panel

  • The Campana building in Batavia.

      The Campana building in Batavia. Rick West | Staff Photographer

Updated 9/12/2017 8:55 AM

The Batavia Historic Preservation Commission has approved changes to be made to the appearance of the landmark Campana factory building and grounds so that apartments can be put in the building.

The commission voted 4-1 Monday to grant a Certificate of Appropriateness to Evergreen Real Estate Group LLC for its plans for the 1936 building. It is a local landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places.


Evergreen agreed to add 80 windows to meet a city code requiring vision windows in housing units. The building, known for its art deco/Bauhaus architecture, now has glass block windows.

The new windows would have a film that emulates the building's brick so that they appear from the outside to be part of the facade.

The commission's approval also clears the way for cellphone antennae, now on the sides of the building's tower, to be placed on the top of the tower and hidden by a screen.

And the commission is also cool with the developer putting a sidewalk around the perimeter of the oval driveway in front of the building and extending the sidewalk to Route 31 (Batavia Avenue.)

Commission member Doris Sherer voted "no."

"I believe that the 80 windows in the structure radically changes the integrity and design of the architect ... and does not meet the mission or the guidelines of the Batavia Historic Preservation Commission," she said.

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But Commissioner Phil Bus said the changes are "acceptable compromises" to ensure the building is preserved. Landmarks Illinois in 2006 put the building on its annual list of most endangered historical buildings because of its declining condition.

The windows, the sidewalk and the antennae screen still need approval from state and federal historic preservation offices. Evergreen wants to use historic preservation tax credits to help pay for the estimated $30 million cost of the project.

Evergreen wants to put 80 apartments in to the building.

The main part of the building was constructed for the Campana cosmetics factory. Several wings were later added. A variety of businesses, including a costume shop, a mattress store and two sports training businesses, occupy about 60 percent of it.

The Batavia Plan Commission recommended Evergreen's proposal last week. The city council will start discussing it Sept. 19.

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