The village of Plainfield spent $125,000 to buy the former downtown Baci restaurant, about $275,000 less than the original asking price.
The purchase was finalized as a “consent agenda” item on April 16, meaning it was included in a bundle of items that received mass approval at the start of the Plainfield Village Board meeting rather than being put to a separate vote.
Mayor Michael Collins said the board had reached a “concensus” to purchase and repair the shuttered building after a series of closed meetings, and board members didn’t feel it was necessary to put it to an individual vote.
“Everyone was aware of it and everyone wanted to do it; the concensus was yes,” Collins said.
He knows some residents are opposed to the village’s plan, which is to fix the roof and to remove extensive basement mold before attempting to sell it. But trustees felt strongly that using tax-increment financing (TIF) district money for the purchase and repairs was the right thing to do, he said.
No money from the village’s general fund budget will be required. TIF money is accrued when taxes in a district increase after public money is spent to make improvements. The village separates out the new income and puts it into a fund for future projects in the district. Only those property owners whose buildings are in the district are affected.
Collins said in April that while many had looked at the old church/restaurant property at 24018 W. Lockport St., none were willing to invest in it because they feared the repair price tag. Having that work done by the village should make it more lucrative to a potential buyer, he said.
Because the village board had given Baci owners a facade grant to paint the building and secure the foundation less than a year before the closure, the village’s purchase of the property also allows that investment to be protected, Collins said.
If the property sells for as much as the village has invested, it will be a break-even proposition. However, there’s no guarantee how much the village might recoup through a sale, Collins said.
The good news is the village did negotiate a good purchase price, Collins said. The property was originally marketed for $400,000 when the restaurant closed in November 2010, and then the price dropped to $319,000 when no offers were made, he said.
Only a few years earlier, the 5,500-square-foot building — the former St. Mary’s Catholic church, which had been converted into a restaurant — was being marketed for $800,000, he said.
They were able to secure the $125,000 purchase price after a series of back-and-forth negotiations with the company handling the sale of the foreclosed property, he said.
The village building department will soon be seeking bids for the repair work.
“Right now were doing an evaluation of the needs,” Collins said. “We’re in the midst of getting somebody in there to clean up the mold, and to just do some general cleaning.”
He declined to speculate on how much the cleaning and repair work might cost. The building had been a restaurant for nearly 20 years, so the kitchen cleanup work will be extensive.
Despite that, the village is not married to the idea of the building remaining a restaurant, said village Planner Michael Garrigan, who will be involved in marketing the property. They’re open to all proposals, he said.
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