Shodeen’s One Washington Place project in Batavia delayed again

Rising cost of building materials halts start to work

BATAVIA – The One Washington Place redevelopment project for downtown Batavia has been delayed once again.

Excavation for the mammoth building will not get underway next month, as had been anticipated.

The rising cost of building materials and disruptions in the worldwide supply chain have forced Geneva-based Shodeen Construction to put the start of the project on hold.

“We’re really having concerns about the increased cost of all building materials,” Shodeen President Dave Patzelt said.

Shodeen and the city of Batavia have a development agreement to build the $50 million mixed use project, which includes a 333-space two-level parking garage, 186 apartments, 14,180 square feet of commercial space and 2,370 square feet for offices.

The six-level building will cover most of a city block bounded by North Washington Avenue, East Wilson, North River and State streets in the heart of the downtown.

Patzelt said the price tag for the building is now higher than the budget, declining to say by how much.

“That’s not to say that it’s killing the project,” Patzelt said. “We remain positive and we’re trying to work through the issue.”

Patzelt said Shodeen is working with its lender to make up the difference.

Noting that many construction projects are being canceled or placed on hold, Patzelt indicated that the solution simply may be to wait until the cost and supply chain problems work themselves out.

“As the demand for lumber drops, costs will come down,” Patzelt said.

Shortages of lumber as well as finished products like hot water heaters and furnaces also are major concerns when plotting out what is anticipated to be a two-year construction project, Patzelt said.

In the five years that One Washington has been in the planning stages, the start of construction has been delayed repeatedly.

The first delay resulted from a miscalculation by Shodeen on the cost of the parking garage, which will be owned by the city. Eventually the city increased its commitment to the project by $2 million, bringing the total to $16 million.

Later, city officials discovered that the building site is contaminated with lead, requiring a lengthy approval process with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for a plan to clean up the property during excavation.

Last year, city officials determined that there was not enough time left on the existing TIF district to generate sufficient revenues to repay the bonds that will be issued to fund the public improvements.

They waited until the start of this year to approve a new district in order to maximize the 23-year period as specified in the state law.

The latest construction delay means that Shodeen is expected to miss a July 13 deadline for submitting a series of documents to the city as part of the redevelopment agreement.

City Administrator Laura Newman said those documents include construction bids, an application for a building permit and a commitment from a lender.

Receipt of those documents would set in motion a 30-day time-frame for the city to transfer the property into Shodeen’s hands.

Failure to meet the deadline does not automatically invalidate the development agreement, Newman said. That would require direct action by the Batavia City Council.

Support for the project from the council has been tenuous at best. Mayor Jeff Schielke has frequently been called upon to break 7-7 tie votes to move the project forward.

Now, council support is even less certain, with several new aldermen taking office just last month.