Environmental work, then parts of Naperville's old Nichols library coming down

Work to demolish part of the old Nichols Library in downtown Naperville is under way as the building's owners clear space for future development.

Crews last week started the demolition, which is expected to ramp up toward the end of the month to tear down the south addition and part of the eastern wall of the building at 110 S. Washington St., said Jeff Brown of T2 Capital Management, who owns the building with Dwight Avram of Avram Builders.

The work cannot affect the original Washington Street facade of the building, since the city council last September declared the former library a landmark. But the south wing, an addition from 1962, was determined not to add to the historical value, and the back of the building is not protected by landmark status.

So far, Brown said the work toward partial demolition has involved "guys in the white alien suits" conducting asbestos removal and environmental remediation. The cleanup began after the former tenant, Truth Lutheran Church, moved April 1 to a new worship space built by Brown and Avram as part of a deal to secure ownership of the downtown land.

With the church relocated, drivers on Washington Street can expect to see a demolition company, a structural engineer and a team of contractors with expertise in moving buildings begin the actual dismantling in about two weeks.

Preservationists who worked to get the landmark status approved, such as Charlie Wilkins, say they hope contractors will be careful.

"I just hope that since they will be removing part of the back of the building, which is original to the structure, that however it's done, that it's done safely," Wilkins said, "and it doesn't compromise any of the rest of the original structure."

While parts of the building are disassembled, Brown said the owners are putting together drawings and ideas for a mixed-use center with retail on the first floor and residences above.

He said he plans to reach out toward the end of the month to schedule fresh talks about future uses with the city and members of a preservation group called Save Old Nichols.

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  The site of the old Nichols Library in downtown Naperville is undergoing asbestos removal and environmental remediation in advance of work to tear down its south wing, which was added on in 1962, and part of its eastern wall. Bev Horne/
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