Geneva aldermen vote 9-1 to landmark 1846 Mill Race Inn structure

'It's an old and important building'

GENEVA – Aldermen voted 9-1 on May 7 in favor of designating the 1846 limestone structure that is an original part of the former Mill Race Inn at 4 E. State St., Geneva, as a historic landmark

The action upholds the decision by the Historic Preservation Commission which voted to recommend designating the property as a historic landmark.

The structure is owned by the Shodeen Family Foundation, which sought to demolish it as unusable for future development of the site.

Designating it as a landmark delays its demolition while alternative uses could be explored, preservationists said.

Geneva resident Colin Campbell, one of the preservationists who lobbied for landmark status, thanked the aldermen for their vote.

“We will do everything we can to help and encourage and facilitate and fund the redevelopment of that building,” Campbell said. “We will be in touch with the Shodeen Corporation shortly. We have some ideas and we will move as quickly as we can.”

Landmark status does not guarantee the buildling will not eventually be demolished, but Campbell and other preservationists wanted to delay demolition in order to work out other uses for the building.

The council’s action follows a delay from the April 16 meeting where aldermen sought reassurance from the city attorney that the landmark application was valid.

“I am comfortable now that the application is complete and can be discussed,” 5th Ward Alderman Craig Maladra said. “This building is a tangible link to the past. It's a link to Geneva’s past – our past. … It’s an old and important building to the Geneva brand."

Fourth Ward Alderman Jim Radecki, who cast the lone no vote, said he did not believe the applicant made a strong enough case.

“It’s a tough call. I get how passionate people are about this,” Radecki said. “I think that the application was flawed. … Based upon evidence only, according to a very strict standard, the applicant did not meet that burden.”

But 2nd Ward Alderman Donald Cummings said the property meets the standards for landmark status.

“It’s cut and dried,” Cummings said.

But resident John McCormick said the former Mill Race Inn site is an eyesore.

“This is a community of 20,000 people,” McCormick said. “That is an eyesore. … In the last four years, how much money has come in on taxes from that eyesore? And how much would come in if it was developed? And I think we’re talking a lot of money and I think that money supersedes all the egos here …”