Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Tear it down or fix it up?

Warehouse Elgin, IL
Originally uploaded by Seth Gaines.
I think this is the building described in the same Courier story I mentioned yesterday ("Downtown Elgin block up for grabs," 3/5/06), described as "the sprawling old industrial building at the southwest corner of Highland and State Street."
Kresmery said the building he owns is an unlikely candidate for rehabilitation, although he has tried to think of ways to reuse it, making it a potential tear-down project. (Courier 3/5/06)
Kurt Kresmery has done some great work in downtown Elgin, and this isn't meant as criticism--afterall he knows more about real estate than I'm likely to learn in my lifetime. Maybe I'm just naive. But I thought it was odd that he told the Courier it was a potential tear-down project, and at the same time has a "for rent" sign on the outside of the building. Will anybody rent space in a building that will potentially be torn down?

Could this be another case of Planner's Blight?

In any case, I hope he will consider rehabilitating it, because under the soot and the ugly windows--some bricked over, there's a beautiful building. Restore the windows to what they were originally, sandblast the facade, and a gleaming building with big windows and high ceilings will emerge. Replace the loading docks with doors and entranceways, and you've got a building suitable for many uses: offices, studios, schools, lofts, and even retail.

This site is especially sensitive. Any demolition would probably involve the destruction of the Waverly Stables, one of the last cobblestone structures in Elgin. That's something we should avoid. We certainly should not be incentivizing the destruction of any more landmarks.

The Waverly Stables aside, this building is itself architecturally significant. If you describe this as a Classical Revival building, then with the destruction of the Crocker Theater, I think this may be the sole example of the style in the downtown.


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