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Batavia business owner upset about delay in sale of Thomle building

Published: Friday, Nov. 15, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Nov. 15, 2013 7:27 a.m. CDT

BATAVIA – Michael Grudecki has started a petition to convince the Batavia City Council to accept his proposal to turn the city-owned Thomle building in downtown Batavia into an upscale establishment, Tini Lounge, that will specialize in martinis.

Grudecki, president of Vignette Home Decor in Batavia, said he is frustrated with the fact that he originally made his proposal to aldermen in May, and they have yet to vote on the proposal.

He also objected to a commercial real estate company being able to recently submit another proposal for the building.

“I don’t understand why they are letting somebody else in, six months after the fact,” Grudecki said Thursday. “The city has shown that they are really not that receptive to small businesses.”

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 historical building, which was built in 1876.

Grudecki said the longer the building remains empty, the longer it isn’t generating tax revenues for the city.

The city in the past has rented the space to businesses at a reduced rate to encourage new businesses into the downtown.

The latest business, Simonetti Studios, last year moved from the Thomle building to a second-story loft space at 30 Shumway Ave.

Grudecki’s plan also includes renting out the building’s lower level to another tenant.

“I want to keep the incubator space to give other businesses the same opportunity,” he said.

Batavia City Administrator Bill McGrath said the city has apologized to Grudecki about how long the process has taken. He said that Grudecki will be given the chance to give another presentation to aldermen in December.

St. Charles-based Corcoran Commercial Real Estate, which recently submitted a proposal to city staff, also will be given a presentation to aldermen.

The company wants to acquire the Thomle building and combine it with adjoining property to develop restaurant space on the first floor and residential on the upper levels, McGrath said.

He noted the proposal is similar to one presented to aldermen in May by a proposed partnership that included Batavia Enterprises. That proposal was withdrawn this week, he said.

Given the expanded scope of the new proposal, McGrath said aldermen deserve to look at it.

“We think our obligation is to do what is best for our community,” McGrath said. “We have to look at what would be best in the long-term interest of the city.”

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