BATAVIA – The city of Batavia is selling the historic Thomle building to a local kitchen and bathroom design business for $160,000.
Jamie and Bill Koc of Batavia are purchasing the two-story limestone structure at 2 E. Wilson St., occupying a prominent location on the east bank of the Fox River in the heart of the downtown.
The Batavia City Council approved the deal June 18, with city staff and the Koc couple expected to close the sale within two days.
“The Thomle building was a perfect fit for my business,” said Jamie Koc, who owns and operates Heart of the Home, which sells kitchen and bath designs to both retail customers and building contractors.
Products will be displayed on the first floor, Koc said, while the upper level will be used for conferences and presentations.
Koc, who has been running the design firm from her Batavia home, said she hopes to be doing business from the Thomle building before the end of the year.
When the city of Batavia used the power of eminent domain to acquire the Thomle building in 1995, the plan was to fix the dilapidated structure and then get it back on the property tax rolls.
The city made extensive repairs to the building, including facade improvements. The exterior work also included signs with the Thomle name and touting the structure’s origin, circa 1878.
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 startup enterprises paying below-market rents under an incubator business program.
Late last year, the city determined that the time was ripe to follow through on the original plan and sell the building.
Batavia Economic Development Consultant Chris Aiston said the sale will get the building back on the property tax rolls and generate sales tax revenue for the city.
The sale also is significant because it ensures that the building will survive into the future. When soliciting proposals for the structure, aldermen left the door open to the possibility of demolishing the building as part of a redevelopment project.
The building’s footprint is small, covering about 700 square feet, but there is a considerable amount of land extending about 90 feet behind the structure to the south.
Below street grade, the building has another, unfinished level that is used for storage. A city-owned staircase on the building’s western face connects Wilson Street above to the riverbank below.
The structure 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.