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Habitat for Humanity to build homes in Batavia

Nonprofit buys former west-side water tower site

Habitat for Humanity plans to build four single-family homes on this half-acre site at 1600 W. Wilson St. in Batavia.
Habitat for Humanity plans to build four single-family homes on this half-acre site at 1600 W. Wilson St. in Batavia.

BATAVIA – Habitat for Humanity plans to build four single-family homes in Batavia on the former west-side water tower site.

The nonprofit builder of affordable homes has purchased the half-acre property at 1600 W. Wilson St. from the city for $91,000, Batavia Community Development Director Scott Buening said.

Construction on the four homes is not expected to get underway until next year at the earliest, said Bill Klaves, associate director of Habitat for Humanity of Northern Fox Valley, based in Elgin.

The property is located a block east of Randall Road – sandwiched between commercial businesses on Independence Drive to the west and residences on Spuhler Drive to the east – on the south side of Wilson opposite the Ace Hardware store.

The city water tower was removed a decade ago and the land has remained vacant ever since.

Two years ago, the Batavia City Council rejected a developer’s plan to construct a 12-unit apartment building on the property, with aldermen saying the density of the project was just too much.

Aldermen and residential neighbors reacted more favorably when real estate investor Kevin Stough of Batavia last year proposed six single-family homes on the site.

That plan was approved, but Stough later approached Habitat for Humanity, Klaves said.

“We continually look for opportunities to build houses,” Klaves said.

Reducing the number of homes from six to four will “make it a little more family friendly,” Klaves said.

Habitat for Humanity builds affordable homes using volunteer labor.

The homes are sold at their appraised value with a 30-year, no-interest loan, Klaves said. Buyers must earn between 30 and 70 percent of the area median income, and are required to work a minimum of 250 hours on their homes.

“That helps build a sense of ownership and community,” Klaves said.

The home's foundation, heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and plumbing are contracted to professionals, Klaves said, but the bulk of the construction is handled by Habitat volunteers.

Although the property already has been rezoned to a single-family classification, Habitat’s project is expected to go before the Batavia Plan Commission for design review and the City Council for final approval.

“We’re cognizant that we need to fit in,” Klaves said.

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