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Local

Batavia weighs foundry’s fate

City seeks structure's repair or demolition

The city of Batavia seeks the demolition or repair of this former foundry and warehouse building at 126 S. Mallory Ave., Batavia, in the middle of a residential neighborhood on the near west side, calling the structure uninhabitable. Meanwhile, the owner is hoping to sell the building to a buyer who wants to put an antique automotive museum inside the structure.
The city of Batavia seeks the demolition or repair of this former foundry and warehouse building at 126 S. Mallory Ave., Batavia, in the middle of a residential neighborhood on the near west side, calling the structure uninhabitable. Meanwhile, the owner is hoping to sell the building to a buyer who wants to put an antique automotive museum inside the structure.

BATAVIA – The fate of a century-old Batavia foundry and warehouse building is playing out in Kane County Circuit Court and before the Batavia Plan Commission.

The large masonry building at 126 S. Mallory Ave., Batavia, stands in the middle of an established residential neighborhood on Batavia’s near west side.

The building could fall to the wrecker’s ball, or it might get a new lease on life as an antique automotive museum.

In 2014, the structure was damaged in a fire that destroyed the industrial building next door at 106 S. Mallory Ave., Batavia, at the southeast corner of Mallory and First Street.

Last spring, Batavia Code Enforcement Officer Rhonda Klecz declared the building uninhabitable, citing a litany of building code violations.

Klecz served the owners of the property, Edgar and Diane Dewell, with a notice of condemnation, ordering them to make repairs.

Shortly afterward, Batavia Community Development Director Scott Buening filed a lawsuit asking a judge to grant the city authority to demolish the building and place a lien on the property.

In her notice of condemnation, Klecz described the building as a fire hazard because of excessive storage throughout the structure and no active sprinkler system.

The building has no bathroom facilities and is not connected to the city sewer system, according to the code enforcement officer. It has holes in the brick walls and the roof, structurally unsafe flooring in the building mezzanine, twisted and rusted floor joists and inadequate lighting, among other problems.

The lawsuit has been working its way through the legal process. The next court date for the case is in March.

Meanwhile, the city is seeking to rezone both 106 and 126 S. Mallory from the current light industrial classification to a neighborhood commercial classification.

Under the neighborhood commercial zoning, permitted uses would include small-scale retail, office and service uses, according to Batavia Planning and Zoning Officer Joel Strassman. Loft-style residences above commercial spaces also would be allowed.

The Batavia Plan Commission considered the rezoning proposal at a hearing Feb. 7.

Several neighbors living along Mallory and First near the foundry building addressed the Commission, urging the demolition of the structure. They generally spoke in favor of the zoning change, but their comments centered primarily on frustration with the condition of the building.

Building owner Diane Dewell told the Commission she has a buyer for the structure and asked the Commission not to approve any zoning changes that would ruin the deal.

Potential buyer Tyler Hook of Hinsdale would like to turn the building into an antique automotive museum. Hook has a collection of cars, road signs, neon business signs and other artifacts he wants to display and said he has the ability to make the repairs to the building sought by the city.

Buening said a museum could be permitted under the neighborhood commercial classification, and the Plan Commission hearing was continued to Feb. 21.

Batavia Building Commissioner Jeff Albertson said that the building must either be brought into compliance with the city building code or it will be demolished, and that a resolution is imminent.

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