‘Resort-style living’ apartments proposed for former foundry site in downtown Batavia

A developer wants to construct apartment buildings on a long-vacant site in downtown Batavia, where a historic foundry once stood.

Batavia Enterprises Inc. on Tuesday unveiled a proposal for three five-story buildings south of Shumway Avenue and First Street. The apartment complex would be called 365 Shumway, a reference to its possible address.

“You’re going to be able to have resort-style living in downtown Batavia,” Austin Dempsey, chief executive officer of Batavia Enterprises Inc., told aldermen during a committee meeting on Tuesday night.

Plans call for an 11,000-square-foot “amenities deck” connected to two of the buildings. The deck would feature a swimming pool with a view of the Fox River. The complex also could have several guest apartments for use by tenants’ visitors, he said.

Some of the buildings would have covered parking on the first floor. There also would be storefronts along First Street. The site would wrap around another BEI building on the southwest corner of Shumway and First, which houses a fitness center and barbershop.

Alderman Alan Wolff said he likes the concept.

“This kind of defines where our downtown is and how much more walkable it can be,” Wolff said, as residents would likely dine and shop in the downtown.

He said it would also help the city finally designate a site for a potential second downtown bridge. A decade ago, an advisory committee recommended building another bridge.

“That’s an exciting project,” Alderman Nick Cerone said.

BEI owns properties to the east, north and west of the site, including the Batavia Plaza shopping center and industrial and office buildings. “We want to give that entire quadrant (of the downtown) a purpose,” Dempsey said.

The Batavia sewage treatment plant is to the south.

Financial aid

BEI would likely seek $8 million to $11 million in financial aid from the city for the project, which is roughly estimated to cost $40 million to $50 million. Much of that would go for the parking, which would be open to the public. The city could then sell parking permits to the building’s residents, Dempsey said.

The site is in a tax-increment financing district that expires in 2039. City Administrator Laura Newman said the money could come from that. But she said it might be better to remove the site from the TIF and then create a micro TIF district just for that property. If the city did that, the micro TIF would have 23 years to repay any city investment in the project. A financial consultant will discuss options with aldermen at a yet-unscheduled meeting.

Shumway and Sons Foundry opened in 1872 as C.W. Shumway Foundry. It helped fill the desire for iron products to rebuild Chicago in the wake of the 1871 fire. It also produced the NFL’s Vince Lombardi Trophy and Oscar and Emmy award statuettes.

The foundry closed in 2002, and its seven buildings were razed in 2007. It took several years to remove hazardous materials, including heavy metals, from the soil on the site, Dempsey said Wednesday. BEI also wanted to be sure the city wasn’t going to put a bridge through the site, he said.

Dempsey said he will have a community meeting about the project at an unspecified date.

The proposal would also use the site of the former Batavia Bowl, which was demolished in 2009.