Local News

New year means new restaurants, projects and a renovated Depot Pond for Batavia

2022 is set to be a productive year for Batavia, which is set to see multiple new developments despite a resurgence in COVID-19 cases and other setbacks.

“Things have been really busy in the city of Batavia despite there being a global pandemic and all of the difficulties that COVID-19 has presented for us,” Batavia City Administrator Laura Newman said. “But we’ve seen many new businesses open and new properties being built and planned.”

This year will see three new fast-food restaurants in Batavia.

“The old Avenue Chevrolet property has been purchased by a developer,” Newman said. “They have contracts underway to build a Starbucks and a Chipotle on that property.”

The city has received plans for a Culver’s to be built on what was originally the parking lot of the TGI Friday’s on Randall Road.

“Douglas Flooring has moved their operations to the building where TGI Friday’s was located and they had a very large field of parking there that will no longer be needed,” Newman said. “They have sold that to Culver’s to build a new restaurant.”

Another major project for Batavia in the new year is the renovation of its section of the Fox River, which involves the removal of the Challenge Dam.

Doing so outright would drain Depot Pond, which has become a central feature of the downtown. That has challenged the city with continuing the project in a way that preserves the pond.

“We’ve hired Hitchcock Design Group as our consultants to help us create a master plan for the Batavia section of the Fox River corridor,” Newman said. “We want to make sure we’re very careful about the plan for what we would replace the dam with.”

A joint meeting of the Batavia Park District and Batavia City Council is set for Jan. 18 to discuss what will replace the Challenge Dam.

“I’m a very strong supporter of retaining the Depot Pond in its current configuration as far as the body of water,” Batavia Mayor Jeffery Schielke said. “I think there’s going to need to be something done in relationship to the dam, which is 100-plus years of age.”

“We really want to plan the whole two-mile stretch that is Batavia’s portion of the Fox River,” Newman said. “Once we decide that, we can get on with the rest of the plan.”

The city’s new year plans faced a large setback Dec. 26, when the One Washington Place downtown redevelopment project, which was set to break ground in January of this year after five years of planning, was scrapped.

“That is a $50 million project,” Newman said before the announcement. “It is 186 luxury apartments, a 330-space public parking garage, as well as 16,550 square feet of additional retail space in our downtown.”

Shodeen Group, which was set to develop One Washington Place, exercised its right under the redevelopment agreement to terminate the project. The developer cited issues with the inflationary economy, market instability and supply chain disruptions as the basis for its decision.

Despite the setback, Batavia still will be busy with residential projects in 2022.

“We are really excited for the growth that seems to be happening despite all the challenges,” Newman said.

Along with continuing construction of the Prairie Commons townhomes, Batavia plans to build a new subdivision west of Randall Road.

“It’s being built off of McKee Street west of Randall behind the old Sam’s Club,” Newman said.

“Our number of new houses was way up last year,” Schielke said.