Due to the multiple delays incurred for the One Washington Project, the timeline for repayment of the bonds is now too short to proceed with the original proposal under the public-private partnership with Shodeen Group. Both the City and Developer are working through various alternatives that will allow for the project to begin in late fall but more likely in spring of 2021. Discussions on alternatives will occur at a future public meeting when details have been vetted.
One Washington Place (OWP) was originally proposed as a $40 million mixed-use development project consisting of 194 luxury apartments, a 335-space public parking garage and 5,664 square feet of new commercial space in the heart of downtown Batavia.
In 2004, the City acquired the First Baptist Church property in anticipation of working with the Illinois Department of Transportation to fix the jog that IL Rte. 25 takes at Wilson St. from S. River to Washington St. Unfortunately, fixing the jog proved to be unfeasible and the City was left with a building that needed millions in repairs in order to bring it up to code for any reuse.
In 2016, Shodeen approached the City with a proposal to build One Washington Place on the site of the First Baptist Church and other adjacent run-down properties. Warranted to provide a huge increase in property value, the creation of a new public parking garage and economic stimulus provided by hundreds of new downtown residents, the project was very attractive to the City. However, the expected rate of return for the developer was substantially less than the average market return. In order to make up the difference, the City agreed to provide tax increment financing (TIF) for the project. TIF uses the additional tax increment created by the development to fund redevelopment of blighted areas.
The project was projected to generate about $1 million in additional increment per year. The TIF was established in 2017 and lasts 23 years. The City planned to issue $16 million in bonds to finance the project, approximately $9 of which represented the construction costs of the public parking garage. The remaining $7 million would reimburse the developer for certain costs associated with the private development aspects of the project (the apartments and commercial space).
Initially, the project was expected to break ground in late 2017, but higher than expected project cost estimates came in mid-2017, resulting in a renegotiation of the City’s agreement with the developer and a reconfiguration of the project that increased the number of apartments, and reduced the number of parking spaces and commercial space.
In 2018, environmental testing that was done after several buildings were removed revealing the existence of lead contaminated soils. A remediation plan for the lead soils as well as a groundwater remediation plan were negotiated with the developer, resulting in another amendment to the redevelopment agreement. The remediation plans were submitted to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for their approval. On December 3, 2019, the City received notice from the IEPA that the remediation plans were approved.
As of December 16, 2019, the City has been waiting for the developer to submit its plans and application for a building permit. Based on the current timeline, it is expected that the project will break ground in Autumn 2020 or Spring 2021. Construction is estimated to take 3 years to complete. The City built the parking lot on N. River St. just north of the footbridge in 2018 in anticipation of this project to provide replacement for the parking spaces and garage that will be eliminated when construction begins. The City plans to keep this parking lot on a temporary basis after OWP is built to determine whether parking needs in the downtown business district are met.