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Yorkville officials will continue old jail sale talks with for-profit group

YORKVILLE – The Yorkville City Council is leaning towards one of the two applicants who are seeking to buy the old county jail at 111 W. Madison St. after both presented their tax increment financing requests at the Tuesday, June 25 Yorkville City Council meeting.

The two applicants who are looking to purchase the old jail are a for-profit group with Chicago-area ties and Imperfect Angels, a non-profit mentorship organization based out of Aurora. Cary Cole and Peter McKnight, the developers for the for-profit project proposal, requested $306,000 of TIF assistance from the city up front with additional funds over the course of 20 years to be determined. Imperfect Angels is requesting $50,000 up front from the city and $200,000 over 20 years.

After deliberating the two options once they returned from closed session, City Council members were leaning towards the for-profit project proposal based mainly on their developer experience, but only if better terms for the TIF funds could be negotiated with them.

Ward 3 Alderman Chris Funkhouser said he sees a passion from Imperfect Angels and that he appreciates that, and the for-profit proposal is a logical development. He said he likes the potential for community-focused development and that Imperfect Angels is asking for less from the city, but the for-profit project has more viability in the long term.

“But they are asking for too much financially,” Funkhouser said, citing concerns about the city front-funding too much in TIF dollars with the failed Countryside TIF agreement-turned-hotel project.

Ward 3 Alderman Joel Frieders said he would want to champion for downtown and not sell it short with just choosing the cheaper option for the city, but he agreed that the dollar amount for the for-profit proposal was too high, describing it as ridiculous.

“But at the same time, you get what you pay for,” Frieders said.

Aldermen also discussed how the for-profit project would fix the building’s deteriorating roof and address other issues like removing lead-based paint and asbestos in the building before the city would start with giving them $78,000 in TIF assistance, with that amount originally budgeted for the building’s demolition.

As the for-profit’s TIF assistance request stands currently, Yorkville Mayor John Purcell said he would veto the proposal if he would have to because the city doesn’t have that kind of money to front for the project.

“I’m going to tell you right now, there’s no way I’m taking that funding by $306,000,” Purcell said. “You won’t get my support for that at all.”

Yorkville City Administrator Bart Olson said the direction he got from the city was to negotiate terms further for the for-profit project and not with Imperfect Angels. He said there could potentially be a sales agreement for discussion by the July 23 City Council meeting.

“My deadline is moving as fast as the other party,” Olson said.

The presentations come after city officials last discussed what’s been going on with the old jail during their May 14 regular meeting. The for-profit proposal includes a possible microbrewery and possibly up to five residential units, whereas the non-profit proposal includes possible residential rental units, a resource center and community center.

Both proposers said they would be open to whatever the market demands when it comes to what type of businesses would occupy proposed commercial areas within the project.

Another point of negotiation for either project proposal could include the site’s parking spaces and whether the lot would be public, private or a combination of the two. The lot is currently owned by the city and the state said it was worth $600,000, according to city officials.

Yorkville Mayor John Purcell said he would like an update on negotiations to be brought back to the next City Council meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. July 9, if available.

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