Naperville City Council voted 7-2 to offer a $450,000 incentive to Little Friends to accept an offer for its property that preserves the Kroehler Mansion.
The nonprofit is moving to a new location in Warrenville on August 24 that will allow it to better serve those with autism and other developmental disabilities.
But selling its current site in the historic district would be more valuable if the mansion could be torn down.
“Little Friends quite frankly needs a new campus but we cannot afford a new home without selling our land,” said the nonprofits President and CEO Mike Briggs. “Little Friends did not ask for this agreement to be in place. Instead we have done what this council asked us to do, endeavored to find a Naperville-centric developer who was willing to preserve some of our legacy buildings and build new residences that honor the heritage and style of the block.”
The city is offering the incentive, which was originally $562,000 before being lowered, to preserve the mansion, which once housed former Naperville mayor Peter Kroehler.
The city isn’t required to pay up until the nonprofit records a covenant against the land that requires the Kroehler mansion to be protected.
But not all council members felt it was a good use of taxpayer money.
“If this goes through, Little Friends and Ram West will have done pretty well with this deal. I have trouble with the fact that the same can’t be said for the neighborhood, the city, or the taxpayers,” said Councilwoman Theresa Sullivan. “I can’t support this. If or when council agrees to this particular resolution, in my view, it will be the single most disappointing decision this council has made since I started serving.”
In November, city council gave Little Friends permission to demolish the building, but asked them to explore other options first. Little Friends will also have to forfeit its certificate of appropriateness to tear down the mansion under this incentive agreement.
Developer Ram West Capital is expected to move forward with a residential concept for the property that would incorporate the mansion.
Naperville News 17’s Casey Krajewski reports.
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