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Local News

Yorkville Council delays old jail vote, could seek bids to save building

The former Kendall County jail, as it appears today in downtown Yorkville.
The former Kendall County jail, as it appears today in downtown Yorkville.

The Yorkville City Council has again postponed a vote on tearing down the old Kendall County jail in the city's downtown, and will consider seeking bids to save the jail with assistance from a statewide historic preservation organization.

In an email to aldermen, City Administrator Bart Olson wrote that he had a discussion with Lisa DiChiera, director of advocacy for Landmarks Illinois, regarding the old jail.

Olson wrote that, in DiChiera's opinion, the old jail property "is primed for a residential (single family, condo, senior living) or commercial developer (multiple uses) to redevelop the property and save the building based on federal and state level tax credits for historic preservation. She gave me a brief overview of how historic tax credits work, which she thinks is a more viable funding source than grants and fundraising."

Olson also wrote in a memo to aldermen that the organization has offered to perform a phase II structural study of the building and that Landmarks also has a commitment from WJE Engineers and Architects "to take a look at structural portions of the building, with the request that the city do the demo/cutting work on the walls and floors in the areas of concern."

At Tuesday evening's City Council meeting, aldermen voted unanimously to table the vote on an RFP to demolish the building for another two weeks, where they will review an amended RFP for developing the structure or demolishing it if no suitable development plan is found.

Alderman Joel Frieders said the city had received "better information" since its last meeting from Landmarks Illinois about tax credits and other options.

"I am in support of seeing where that path will lead us as opposed to quickly tearing it down," he said.

Alderman Carlo Colosimo said he wants a deadline for the RFP to be completed and bids submitted to the city.

"We've got to just set some sort of deadline though," he said. "I don't want this thing to just linger for the next year, or two years, three years, and some council four years from now is right back to where we are today saying, 'Well, why don't we see if anybody wants to buy it?' We tried that once, now we're trying it twice. I'd like to put some sort of deadline on it."

Olson said 120 days for the RFP to be released and bids to be submitted is a "reasonable timeline." However, he said Landmarks Illinois has offered to review the RFP and make suggestions, and said he would let the council know if Landmarks has a different estimate on a timeline.

Colosimo asked Olson about the restrictions the city has to sell the property. Olson said that because the property is in a TIF district, the law is much less restrictive. Olson said a sale requires a super-majority vote but that the city could sell it to a group for a nominal price.

"You have a wide latitude there," Olson said.

The council voted unanimously to table the issue and bring it back to the next City Council meeting, which will be Nov. 13.

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