Geneva committee recommends nearly $25,000 to Zazu luxury salon owner

Economic incentive agreement key to update storefront of 1890s historic building

Geneva town sign

Geneva alderpersons acting as the Committee of the Whole unanimously recommended an economic incentive agreement of $24,680 to the owner of a luxury salon who plans to open a new location in the city’s historic district in the former site of Fifth Third Bank, 225-227 W. State St.

The bank stopped using the site in 2019 and it has been vacant ever since, according to the agreement with owner Michael Segretto and Echo Base LLC, which bought the property in June 2023 to establish a new location for a Zazu Salon. Echo Base paid $550,000 to Fifth Third Bank on June 8, 2023, for the 4,700-square-foot, two-story building that was built in 1890, property records show.

The $24,680 is from the city’s American Rescue Plan Act funds, which allow grants for historic preservation and adaptive reuse. The amount represents about 2.5% of the company’s investment of nearly $980,850, City Administrator Stephanie Dawkins said at the May 20 meeting.

The company chose Geneva after a two-year search for a new location, she said.

“Zazu Salons is Illinois’ largest family-owned and operated luxury salon group with multiple locations including Hinsdale, Naperville, Wheaton, Elmhurst, Naples, Florida, and Chicago’s Gold Coast,” Dawkins said.

“Originally the project scope focused on interior renovations only,” Dawkins said. “However, after engaging on permit review matters, the owner directed the architect to consider a plan for the outdated storefront.”

In October 2023, the Historic Preservation Commission approved a proposal to restore the original storefront with some modification, she said.

Echo Base LLC asked for financial assistance from the city for exterior renovations.

“As highlighted by Preservation Planner Lambert, the building is a rare reflection of Prairie School design influences in Geneva’s commercial architecture,” Dawkins said.

The building is a significant property within the local historic district and considered a contributing property in the Central Geneva Historic District listed in the National Register of Historic Places, she said.

The city’s grant will cover the cost to replace the storefront and complete other façade work to address deterioration, cracked ornamental features and upper window maintenance including areas of rot, rust, peeling paint and missing components, she said.

According to the economic incentive agreement, the spa would serve about 100 customers a week with the maximum capacity for more than 700 visits a week.

The agreement requires the owner to open the business within two years of the effective date of the agreement when the City Council takes final action to approve the committee’s recommendation.

The agreement states the project will strengthen the city’s commercial sector and tax base and increase job opportunities.

The agreement also lists the improvements required:

• Reconstruction of a new storefront for the first-floor commercial space

• Modify the existing west staircase to turn into the first-floor commercial space

• Close off the historic west recessed entry

• Interior remodeling to include new restrooms, metals and carpentry finishes

• Mechanical, electrical, plumbing and HVAC upgrades

Other Zazu Salon locations are listed under various limited liability corporations, including Zazu Salon of Geneva, which lists its name as Yodah LLC, according to Secretary of State business records.