Elgin neighbors rally to save DC Cook building from demolition
Holding a sign that read "Shame on you Elgin," Jennifer Whalen was beyond mad about what was happening in the neighborhood in which she grew up.
"I am outraged," Whalen said, as she joined a group of about 50 people rallying in front of the DC Cook building on Wednesday, hoping to save the 120-year-old building from demolition.
Whalen still lives in the house in which she grew up in the northeast neighborhood that is a part of the DC Cook/Lovell Historic District. She said the building is just another in a long line of pieces of history that have been torn down in Elgin.
"All of this is such an important part of this neighborhood and this city," she said. "And it's sad. It's sad to see another thing go.
"Nobody does anything," Whalen said.
Members of the Northeast Neighborhood Association's Property Development Work Group organized the rally on the same day that the Elgin City Council was to hold a special committee of the whole meeting, much of which was to be held behind closed doors in executive session to ostensibly discuss a plan to purchase the property. The city reportedly previously made an offer that was rebuffed by the Christian publishing company, which is now headquartered in Colorado.
The neoclassical building has sat vacant since 1995 and has suffered considerable water damage over the years. The company began removing the roof last week and says that significant demolition will begin Aug. 4.
Supporters would like the city to expand a nearby TIF district to include the property and use that money to buy the property, then work with developers to repurpose the property.
"We want an adaptive reuse of this building by the community, for the community," said Kerry Kelly, a member of the Northeast Neighborhood Association work group.
City council members John Steffen and Carol Rauschenberger, who have spearheaded an effort to negotiate the purchase of the building from DC Cook, attended the rally and addressed the crowd before leaving for the council meeting.
Steffen said he's lived in Elgin for most of his life, "and I know that the city has what I would call a pretty mediocre, if not failing, grade at preserving history and preserving old buildings, so I felt like this was a time to take a stand."
Rauschenberger placed equal blame on the company. "The last 100 days has taken away all the wonderful things that the DC Cook business has brought to our community over the last 100 years," she said.
Rauschenberger said she's talked with three developers in the last 10 days who told DC Cook they are interested in the property, each of which said the building was key to their interest.
"So why are they tearing it down?" she asked. "Without this building, it's a whole different story."
Steffen said things are constantly changing with the situation, but wasn't overly optimistic.
"There's maybe a little bit of hope left, but not much," Steffen said.