A downtown developer has bid to purchase two downtown properties, including the Old City Jail, from the city of Yorkville.
Rick Tollefsun, owner of Imperial Development, asked the city to deed the Old Jail to him in exchange for funding a $250,000 renovation project. His proposal was the only bid for the Old Jail, 111 W. Madison St.
Tollefson said his intention is to use the building for private purposes, but wants to include a museum dedicated to the city’s history. He told city council his goal is “to preserve as much history as he can.”
Tollefson was receptive to Ward 4 Alderman Diane Teeling’s suggestion she would like to hear the opinion of the historical society on the proposal. He also said he was open to finding out if the building is eligible to be included on the state or national historic registers.
However, Tollefson added placing the building on the tax rolls would be beneficial to the city coffers.
The city bought the building, which hasn't been used as a jail since 1992, with state grant money in 2010. The Department of Transportation gave $96,000 to replace public parking that will be removed along Route 47 as the downtown corridor is rebuilt, while the Illinois Bureau of Tourism chipped in $64,000.
"I think it’s going to get restored quicker in the private sector than we’re ever going to get it," Ward 2 Alderman Larry Kot said in September. "If somebody out there wants it and fix it up, I’m all for it."
In April Imperial Investments was part of a TIF agreement where the company agreed to invest at least $2 million in three projects: Cobblestone, The Follies Theatre and apartments at 202 E. Van Emmon Road, 210 E. Van Emmon Road, 306 Heustis St. and 308 Heustis St. Under the agreement Imperial Investments would see a quarter of that $2 million investment return as property taxes associated with the increased property values.
In addition to the Old Jail, Imperial also bid $13,500 to buy and redevelop a parking lot behind the Cobblestone Building, on Van Emmon Street. The lot is about 1/10 of an acre.
During the discussion of that property Alderman Carlo Colosimo questioned the sale of the property since it had not been appraised.
“I have a problem selling something and not knowing its worth. I don’t know if it’s a fair market value,” he said.
Mayor Gary Golinski said the property is worth what someone is willing to pay for it.
“I’ll tell you what it’s worth. It’s worth $13,500. It went out to bid and this is what it was. It’s worth what someone will pay for it,” Golinski said.
After discussion aldermen will move forward with the sale, with assurance the city will have access to any infrastructure in the area if necessary.
In addition to the bids by Imperial, the city is also considering creating a business district on the block of Imperial’s redevelopment plan. If the district is created a sales tax will be put in place to raise money to be spent on public improvements in the area of the business district. A public hearing was held on the business district during last week’s council meeting.