BATAVIA – Aldermen Monday voted 11-3 to give Kay Eck of Wheaton a $25,000 downtown improvement grant so she can open a yoga studio.
Voting “no” were 1st Ward Alderman Garran Sparks, 2nd Ward Alderman Victor Dietz and 5th Ward Alderman Eldon Frydendall. Eck wants to renovate a 2,500-square-foot space at 5 and 7 N. River St. into a retail area and yoga studio. The project is expected to cost $121,251.
Frydendall and others voiced concerns about the proposal and the downtown improvement grant program.
“It’s just a lot of upfront money we are paying for a new business,” Frydendall said. “I don’t think we are being fair to businesses that have been around for a while and are trying to survive.”
The City Council in 2009 established the downtown improvement grant program, which provides building owners with up to 50 percent of actual improvement costs.
Batavia business owner Joe Marconi said he was against the yoga studio, noting the Batavia Park District already offers yoga classes.
“We don’t need a yoga place,” he told aldermen.
The project also includes a coffee/tea bar. Eck said she eventually wants to open a full cafe. She also will sell yoga clothing and active wear.
Seventh Ward Alderman Dave Brown, chairman of the Community Development Committee, sees the yoga studio as generating interest in the downtown and bringing people to the area.
“I don’t think we are giving the money away,” he said. “We are investing it.”
Eck said she wants to tap into the growing interest in yoga.
“I hope that I will partner with other businesses in the downtown and can contribute to the vitality of the downtown,” Eck said.