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Batavia aldermen upset over delay in sale of Thomle building

Published: Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013 6:36 a.m. CDT

BATAVIA – Some Batavia aldermen Tuesday voiced frustration with city staff about the delay in finding a buyer for the city-owned Thomle building in downtown Batavia.

“This project has languished for a long time,” 4th Ward Alderman Susan Stark said during Tuesday’s Joint Committee of the Whole meeting.

The city has been exploring whether to sell the building at 2 E. Wilson St. in downtown Batavia. Since 1997, the city has owned the building, which was built in 1876.

After asking for developer proposals, two proposals came to the city in May. Seventh Ward Alderman Drew McFadden said he didn’t think the process has been as “clear and transparent” as it could have been.

Batavia City Administrator Bill McGrath told aldermen that the delay hasn’t been intentional.

“We’re not happy that this didn’t happen quicker,” he said.

McGrath blamed the project’s delay on a number of factors, including the fact that the city’s economic development analyst left in February. Batavia aldermen recently voted to hire former St. Charles economic development director Chris Aiston as an independent contractor for economic development services.

Michael Grudecki, president of Vignette Home Decor in Batavia, submitted a proposal to turn part of the building into an upscale lounge, Tini Lounge, that will specialize in martinis.

The city in the past has rented the space to businesses at a reduced rate to encourage new businesses into downtown. The latest business, Simonetti Studios, last year moved from the Thomle building to a second-story loft space at 30 Shumway Ave.

Batavia Enterprises also submitted a proposal for the redevelopment of the building and the adjoining building for retail and residential space along with storage/flex space. The plan includes five one-bedroom apartments and one studio apartment.

The project would be developed by 246 East Wilson St., comprised of Batavia Enterprises, the owners of the property at 6 E. Wilson St., and other property owners.

Since those two proposals were submitted, another developer has voiced interest in the property. McGrath said he expects that developer to submit a proposal in the next couple of weeks.

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