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Village in Talks to Purchase, Repair Closed Baci Restaurant

TIF district money would be used to buy the building and do the roof repair and mold removal needed to make it more appealing to potential buyers.

The is negotiating to buy the , with plans to make the repairs that have kept the downtown restaurant from selling since its November 2010 closure.

“Yes, we’re looking at it,” Mayor Michael Collins said. “It should be finalized soon.”

The purchase and renovation work, which includes roof repairs and basement mold removal, will be funded with money in the special taxing district that encompasses downtown, Mayor Michael Collins said. No money from the village’s general fund will be required.

Once the work is completed, the property will go back on the market, he said.

Collins would not say how much the village has tentatively agreed to pay for the former St. Mary’s Catholic Church-turned-restaurant at 24018 W. Lockport St., but it is significantly less than the $759,000 price tag set when previous owners, Frank and John Perri Jr., attempted to sell it in 2010.

According to online sites, the 5,500-square-foot building is currently being listed by Millco Investments for $319,000. It has been in foreclosure for at least a year.

“There are a lot of people who have looked at it, but they’ve held off (on making an offer) because of the damage,” Collins said. Among them were representatives of Plymouth Congregational Church, which is located next door, he said.

The mold in the basement is particularly substantial, apparently because it was never properly contained after a pipe broke several years ago, he said. Initially, Plainfield officials thought they could use village employees to do the remediation work but have since learned specialists will be needed to ensure the cleanup meets Illinois Environmental Protection Agency standards.

Collins declined to discuss the repair work price tag because the proposal is still under discussion.

The building purchase must be approved by the village board before it can be enacted. That should happen sometime in the next month or two, Collins said.

Baci, a mainstay of downtown Plainfield for 20 years, anchors a prime Lockport Street location just west of Route 59. At the time it closed, the real estate agent marketing the property on behalf of the owners said the Italian restaurant was a victim of the economy and the three-year Route 59 widening project.

However, some charged the owners had let the business slide in recent years, citing a decline in the quality of the cuisine and the upkeep of the restaurant itself.

The village also took some criticism for giving the owners a façade grant only to have them close the business less than a year later, prompting the village board to adopt new rules that put more restrictions on how the grants are awarded.

Money for the purchase and repairs will come from the village's downtown tax increment financing -- or TIF -- district fund. It's a way of subsidizing improvements in a specific area by having a municipality pay for the work upfront and then be reimbursed by the increased taxes generated by the improved district. Once the debt is covered, the increased tax money is allowed to accrue in a fund to pay for future projects that will benefit the district and generate more new property taxes.

BitterBluePoison April 16, 2012 at 12:26 PM
The building is unsightly and should be replaced with a new more useful structure.
Butch April 16, 2012 at 12:28 PM
You got to be kidding. If this is legal, then it shouldn't be. The city wants to flip a business? Something tells me some good old boy has some ties to this building.
Sara Weber April 16, 2012 at 01:41 PM
I'm sure the TIF account could be used in a better......
BitterBluePoison April 16, 2012 at 02:22 PM
What to do with an ugly structure in the middle of downtown Plainfield...I know...lets buy it, repair it, then resell it! Of course politics are in play...so what's new? Get the building down, build a revenue generating business and share the profits with the taxpayers. LOL....
ItalianaMaria April 16, 2012 at 02:58 PM
Not surprised.....totally agree with the fact that they let the cuisine slip....im 100% italian and I know how the food should taste....the food there was awful!
Karen Sorensen (Editor) April 16, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Just for the sake of argument, is there not something to be said for not only saving a historic building, but one that might be resurrected as an interesting dining destination that could attract people from outside of Plainfield? It seems a better option than tearing it down and having another empty lot or hoping that someone buys it as it continues to deteriorate. If the village is successful, they'll have brought in a new downtown business without using any taxpayer dollars, other than those generated by the businesses in the downtown TIF district. Presumably, they'd sell it for more than they bought it, so it could end up not only breaking even, but creating a new source of property and sales tax revenue.
MidwestGal April 16, 2012 at 04:15 PM
There IS something to be said for saving a historic building, but shouldn't this be the problem of the current owners or the next owners? Is it even an official historic buidling? What about the tons of other vacant buildings in Plainfield? Baci was an awful restaurant, "mainstay"? Come on, it got some customers, that doesn't make it a "mainstay"! So, I should let my house go to pot, let it go into foreclosure, and the Village of Plainfield will step up and help, especially if they gave me a grant a few years ago? This is wrong, What if it doesn't make money,.. why should WE all gamble this one? Plainfield has no idea how to run a village, they are still complaining about the population explosion that they allowed that was 10 years ago! Leave it be Plainfield....
Karen Sorensen (Editor) April 16, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Thanks for your thoughts, Midwest Gal. There's no doubt this is a gamble and there are good arguments to be made on both sides. I think one thing to remember here is that Baci is in a TIF district, which is set up to specifically use "tax increments" to make improvments designed to generate more business (and tax money) in the district. Homes cannot be in a TIF, but I think many would agree there are other parts of town that would benefit from being in a TIF. As for Baci being a mainstay, I used that word because they were in business for 20 years and outlasted many other downtown businesses. But no doubt about it, toward the end of their run, they had lost a lot of what brought in customers in its early days.
Lisa S. April 16, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Real estate is a gamble in this economy. Should the Village be gambling with taxpayer dollars? There are plenty of other habitable venues for restaurants currently sitting empty. They have better location, parking, and most need minimal repair and/or renovation. What on earth would motivate anyone to buy this from the Village when it is complete? ( additional tax break? Wholesale price for friends and relatives? )
Lisa S. April 16, 2012 at 05:15 PM
If they really want to generate more tax dollars and more business? Tear it down and turn it into a metered parking lot.
Tim April 16, 2012 at 08:15 PM
"without using any taxpayer dollars" This type of thinking is what gets people and towns in financial trouble. Where do you think that money comes from to begin with? The money fairy? That money comes from taxpayers in the district. In this case, from other business owners. Nothing about this is a good idea, and bulldozing it to the ground would not only be cheaper, it would allow for more options to have a new building than one that was constructed 100 years ago would have. Just because something is old, does not mean it is historic. There are a lot of 'ifs' in your presumptions, and if just one of them is wrong, the entire project would be a disaster not only financially but aesthetically. A parking garage would generate much more revenue for the village than anything else in that spot.
John Bates April 16, 2012 at 08:41 PM
For TIF financing to work, the building cannot remain with the Village (no property taxes or sales tax generated). If the Village fixes it up and a Church wants to buy it no taxes gained. If an entity wants to buy it, they should pay for fixing it up. What is the real reason the Village is buying it? Do they want to keep someone else from buying it? If you can't figure this one out, you aren't old Plainfield.
JeffK April 16, 2012 at 10:12 PM
Why did the village allow this building to get this bad in the first place? Are there no codes or enforcement? I'd force the bank to brink the building to code before they can sell it. If there was profit to be made in this building an investor would have jumped on it.
T April 17, 2012 at 01:00 AM
One month ago when shopping at the El Halal market on Route 59, I was told by the owner that the local Muslim group was trying to buy the Baci building to use for a mosque. Now I read that the Village wants to buy it. The situation seems very odd to me.
MICHAEL BORTEL April 17, 2012 at 03:33 PM
The original owners bought the property in 1868 and erected a church on the site long before the area became the busy, congested commercial area that it is now. The Catholic Church bought the building in 1909 and remodeled the church in 1916-19 and when they built their new church, they sold the property with the historic facade being preserved and was re-purposed for retail use....the most recent owner invested money into a novel idea, creating an Italian restaurant....I thought the food was pretty good, with large portions and fair prices, however economic times changed as did people's tastes and the restaurant closed. So while the bank has tried to get their money out of the property these last 3 years, a leaky roof and a mold issue in the basement became apparent and prospective buyers quickly passed on the building. Over the past 15 years the downtown commercial district has benefitted from a positive working relationship between the property owners and the Village and I think the Village believes that stepping in to stabilize the building by investing in its rehabilitation not only benefits the downtown shopping area but will return the building to an income producing enterprise for the next investor while creating tax revenues for the Village and its residents. Restoring and re-purposing this historic building not only preserves the heritage of Plainfield, it will allow someone with a dream to create their vision as well as new jobs - seems like a WIN WIN to me .
Blake April 17, 2012 at 09:07 PM
I agree. The village should not get involved other than to tear it down. The downtown will never reach its full potential without adequate parking and some more variety of stores. Attracting a national retailer to downtown should be the focus.
Lisa S. April 17, 2012 at 11:06 PM
If this is such a lucrative idea, then why are there not private investors snapping it up? If the bank can't get their money back...why should anyone believe that the Village can? If there is someone with a dream and a vision, then they can obtain rehab and business loans and make it happen for themselves. Artificially supporting the real estate economy hasn't worked well for the federal government and it certainly does not bode well for the financial health of our local one. Not every old building in Plainfield is historic. But this decision surely will be.
J Anderson April 18, 2012 at 03:12 AM
Karen the TIF is actually tax dollars since the increment is the property tax increase over time, much of what would have gone to the school district, park district and others. I am dismayed that the Village now allows TIF for interior private benefit when previously it restricted such use to exterior improvements even for historic buildings which was clear in the facade grant. There is also no guaranteeing this property will generate sales tax as it has been commented that the church is interested. A better choice would be an agreement to share sales tax to encourage a sales tax generating business.
Tim April 19, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Publicly list the voting record of who in the village voted for this. Now that the village has approved this purchase of private(non-public) property.
Karen Sorensen (Editor) April 20, 2012 at 04:11 PM
The village board this week unanimously signed off on the first step in the process, an ordinance authorizing the "execution of a purchase agreement and related documents necessary to facilitate the purchase of property located at 24018 W. Lockport St." If things continue to proceed, I would assume the next step will be either to discuss it at a committee of the whole meeting or to approve the purchase agreement.
Miguel Sanchez April 20, 2012 at 04:54 PM
If the published purchase price is accurate, it seems like a great move. Either preserve a historic structure, or redevlop it for community purposes.
Lyle Hughart April 21, 2012 at 08:09 PM
They shoulod tear it down. It does not fit in with any dowton decor. The building does not lend itself to a viable retail outlet structure. It is a shame that the Village is planning to spend money on it and then invest more money for rehab. They could put those TIF monies to betyter use else where. If they are bent on buying the building, then demolish it sell the property to a developer who knows what they are doing
Ron Jidzny March 29, 2014 at 04:43 PM
This was a great idea by our Village Board to purchase this building and dump tens of thousands of dollars into it. What's the status on this building? What's mayor collins have to say about this genius idea? The can isn't even getting kicked down the road anymore.

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