BATAVIA – The new owners of downtown Batavia’s Thomle building are planning major renovations for the historic structure and will be getting help from the city government to finance the work.
The Batavia City Council on Dec. 3 approved two grant requests totaling $25,000 for owners Jamie and Bill Koc of Batavia, who purchased the building from the city last spring for $160,000.
The couple bought the limestone building at 2 E. Wilson St. to operate their business, Heart of the Home, a kitchen and bathroom design firm.
“We’re happy to have a brick-and-mortar location after running the business from our home for three years,” Jamie Koc told the council. “We’re beyond excited.”
But first, a building which dates to 1878 needs considerable work to preserve its structural integrity. The two-story edifice occupies a prominent location on the east bank of the Fox River in the heart of the downtown.
The Kocs plan a $52,773 interior renovation project which includes new floors and floor supports, redesign and reconstruction of the staircase and installation of a new tin ceiling above main floor.
There also will be mechanical and electrical improvements including a new furnace and duct work and new lighting.
Aldermen approved a downtown improvement grant of $23,368 for the work.
In addition, the Kocs plan to repair the building’s second floor windows at a cost of $3,265.
The council approved a façade improvement grant of $1,632 to help cover the repairs.
Jamie Koc said the building’s street-level main floor will showcase kitchen and bathroom fixtures, while the upper level will be used for conferences and presentations.
Heart of the Home sells kitchen and bath designs to both retail customers and building contractors, Koc said.
This new chapter in the Thomle building’s long history brings an end to the city’s ownership.
In 1995, the city used its power of eminent domain to acquire the building, which had fallen into disrepair, and made extensive improvements.
For a time, the building’s second floor served as the headquarters for the Batavia MainStreet organization, while the first floor has been home to a succession of start-up enterprises paying below-market rents under an incubator business program.
Late last year, the city determined that the time was ripe to get the property back onto the tax rolls.
Below street grade the building has two unfinished levels used for storage. A city-owned staircase on the building’s western face connects Wilson Street above to the riverbank below.
The building once housed the Batavia terminal for the Chicago, Aurora and Elgin Railroad, an electric line.
The Thomle building is designated a “significant” structure, the highest classification, in the downtown Batavia Historic District.