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Local News

Yorkville City Council unanimously approves sale of old county jail

Renovation plans call for development of residential units, commercial space

YORKVILLE – Attendees of the Tuesday, Aug. 27 Yorkville City Council meeting and city officials broke into applause after the City Council unanimously approved the sale agreement for the old county jail, 111 W. Madison St.

After more than a year of residents trying to save historic building, the City Council voted, 8-0, in favor of KCJ Restoration LLC purchasing the old jail from the city for $1,000. After the vote, meeting attendees and City Council members cut a jail-themed cake in celebration of the approved sale.

Peter McKnight, one of the developers of KCJ Restoration LLC, said it took a long time to get to this point and no one can ever tell how a final vote like that is going to go, but he thought it ended up being a wonderful outcome.

"[It was] better than we expected," McKnight said. "It’s nice having a unanimous decision."

City officials, including former Yorkville Mayor Gary Golinski, previously were in favor of tearing the building down within the past year and a half. That's when a few concerned citizens started to get involved in trying to save the old jail as the city was about to vote on bids to tear down the building.

Yorkville Mayor John Purcell said he was excited for the contractors to get started with the old jail renovations. He pointed out the irony of being part of the county selling the jail to the city as a county board member and now, as a city mayor, going through another sale process of the building.

Purcell said he's happy with the action and thinks the City Council is happy about the sale, since it means the property can go back on the tax rolls and city can get revenue from the property.

“I think it’s going to be a positive thing for the city,” Purcell said.

When renovations are completed, the building will house commercial space and five residential units. Plans for the project are included in the terms of an agreement between the city and the developers outlined during of the city’s Aug. 6 economic development committee meeting.

City officials had said one of the terms of the proposed agreement include the developers receiving 100% of whatever TIF tax revenue the building might generate for five years starting with any taxes received in 2020. The developers would then receive 90% of those revenues as a rebate from the city during the next four years, 85% during the three years after that and 80% during the three years thereafter.

According to city documents, other terms for the agreement include the city paying the developer a total of $115,000 in out-of-pocket tax increment financing, or TIF, funds, with the developers receiving those funds incrementally, contingent on finishing the roof of the building, removing the lead-based paint in the house, completing the residential units and completing the entire project. There is also a deed restriction that the historic eastern part of the building may never be torn down and the city is also waiving building permit and plan review fees.

McKnight said next steps are in motion for the renovations. He said the contract with a contractor to start removing the interior lead paint is set to be drafted following the City Council vote on the sale.

McKnight said he originally fell into the project after the Yorkville Historical Preservation Society consulted his brother, who is a construction worker, about options in helping save the old jail. He said all credit for the arrangements to save the jail goes to the group.

"This wouldn't have happened without them," McKnight said.

Lisa Wolancevich, chairwoman of the Yorkville Historical Preservation Society, said she was elated and pleased for the long journey to save the jail to come to an end. She said she was happy about the jail sale's outcome so the past can be saved for the future.

"We look forward to working with [McKnight] and seeing the next building in Yorkville saved," Wolancevich said.

The old jail was constructed in 1895 and later expanded. The county vacated the building in the early 1990s, when the new county jail was constructed on Johns Street.

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