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Imperial Investments Bids on Old Jail, Parking Lot

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.

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.

The Fighting Fox November 21, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Just to add to the conversation, unless something has changed recently, I believe that Yorkville currently has 3 Aldermen that directly or indirectly work for Tollefson, either at Cobblestone, Imperial Investments or Boombah. I can't be the only one who thinks that giving away publicly owned property for a relative pittance to Imperial Investments by a Council made up of a significant number of Rick Tollefson's employees is going to end well for the citizens of Yorkville.
Tim November 21, 2012 at 10:21 PM
So just to be clear; You think keeping the property, that is currently unused, off the tax rolls is good for the residents? You think putting the property back onto the property tax rolls is bad for the residents? You think keeping unused property, in a city that the residents get all upset about even the SLIGHTEST tax spending, should stay vacant but with the city spending a quarter of a million in its own money to renovate it for nothing other than historical curiosity? Even while the city has to take half million dollar loans from the county just to keep its roads and bridges functional? Nothing, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, of historical significance happened in this building. There is no reason at all for the city to spend any money to renovate something with no historical meaning, especially when the basic infrastructure of bridges is crumbling around you.
Chris Fox November 22, 2012 at 05:05 AM
I agree with Tim on this one. Thank god certain idiots who used to be in office are gone. Other than 1 big event in 1972...the old jail is just an old building. We could build a massive outhouse on the outskirts of town and draw more visitors to Yorkville.
The Fighting Fox November 30, 2012 at 04:15 PM
I could care less about the building, but I do care about giving away publicly owned real estate to a developer for what seems to be substantially less than "fair market value". Especially when 3 of 8 sitting Aldermen work for the man who owns the development company.
Amy W May 22, 2013 at 06:36 PM
I support the idea of the renovation of our city's downtown, but what price are we willing to pay for this to take place? It's remained status quo for many years, and the progress is exciting, however, building on what Fighting Fox is saying, I find it disconcerting that one individual (using an investment company as his conduit) is being allowed to essentially buy our entire downtown. Sure it's currently a few business buildings (on our main thoroughfare) and a few apartment buildings, add an underused parking lot (yes in need of upkeep), but now a building of relative historic significance.... What else is next?? Will our residents (made up of a range of household incomes) be priced out of our own city's point's of interest? It's great to improve and attract visitors, but isn't it more important to pace our progress, maintain the integrity of our city's history, and allow our city's attractions to first and foremost serve those who live here? What happens once the other side of 47 (and the last of our historic commerical use properties) is purchased and one man controls our city? Do we hold a special vote and make him the mayor, too? While we may appreciate the fervor to rehab downtown, I believe the council members quoted above may be a bit myopic and are letting the dollar signs cloud their judgement.

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