Fate of DC Cook building in Elgin could be decided Wednesday

  • It appears the city of Elgin and the DC Cook company have agreed on a price for the city to buy the property at 850 N. Grove. Crews removed the roof from the wings of the DC Cook office building last week.

    It appears the city of Elgin and the DC Cook company have agreed on a price for the city to buy the property at 850 N. Grove. Crews removed the roof from the wings of the DC Cook office building last week. Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted7/28/2021 5:30 AM

The fate of the DC Cook office building looks to be solely in the hands of the Elgin City Council, as the city appears to have reached an agreement in price on the property.

Wednesday's council agenda includes a resolution "authorizing execution of a letter of intent regarding the purchase of the DC Cook property at 850 N. Grove Avenue."

 

City Manager Rick Kozal said he wouldn't comment on details of the potential purchase of the property from the Christian publishing company because property negotiations are exempt from public disclosure. Council members who have publicly supported the purchase of the building did not return calls for comment.

Members of the Northeast Neighborhood Association's Property Development Work Group have been trying to save the 120-year-old building from demolition, including by hosting a rally last week attended by council members John Steffen and Carol Rauschenberger. The group hopes the city will purchase the property and find an adaptive reuse.

The property is zoned for industrial use, and the neoclassical office building hides warehouses behind it.

The city is known to have made previous offers on the building, including an initial offer of $2 million and a follow-up offer. Both offers were rebuffed.

Council member Rose Martinez, who opposes the idea of purchasing the building without a development plan in place, had previously said DC Cook's asking price for the property was in the range of $4 million, plus any costs associated with canceling demolition contracts.

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Now that much of the roof has been removed by DC Cook, it would have to be replaced along with other stabilization before any renovation of the property could happen. Rauschenberger said last week that just replacing the roof could cost roughly $500,000.

The purchase would have to involve using money from the city's general fund, given that the property isn't located in a tax increment financing district. Supporters of the building have suggested the existing downtown TIF district, where property taxes above a certain point are steered toward redevelopment, could be extended to include the property, but that process is long and not without challenges.

No one could say on the record if an appraisal on the property had been completed. An appraisal wouldn't bind the city to purchase the property at the determined price, but having one means that only a simple majority of council members are necessary to approve the resolution.

Steffen said a couple of weeks ago that six of the nine voters on the council had been supporting the effort to purchase the building at a lower price. If an appraisal has been completed, only five "yes" votes would be needed.

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