As the hour hand neared midnight, commissioners from the Historic Preservation Commission voted to allow the demolition of several buildings on Little Friends’ campus. The gym, administration, and Krejci Academy buildings can now be knocked down if the nonprofit chooses to do so.
What About The Kroehler Mansion?
But the one building that can’t be flattened is the Kroehler Mansion. Commissioners unanimously agreed that its architectural and historical significance outweighed the costs of occupancy.
“Although subjective from an architectural standpoint, historic preservation and the history of it, my opinion on it, the significance does outweigh the cost,” said chairman Kevin Peterson.
The mansion was built in the early 1900s by Peter Kroehler – a former Naperville mayor and founder of the Kroehler Manufacturing Company, which was once a major employer in Naperville.
Reaction To HPC Commission
Some in attendance, who were in support of not demolishing Kroehler Mansion, were happy with the commission’s decision, but see this as just the first step in what could be a long process as they suspected Little Friends would appeal.
“As an advocate for historic preservation, I am pleased with the outcome tonight, but this is not the end. This is merely the beginning,” said Naperville resident Tim Messer.
Little Friends, who was seeking approval to demolish its entire campus in order to fund its move to a new location, was disappointed but not shocked with the commission’s decision.
“We somewhat anticipated this in terms of what was presented. I think the city somewhat anticipated this as well, given the fact that they had the PowerPoint ready,” said President and CEO of Little Friends Mike Briggs. “So it was kind of clear as to what would happen.”
The nonprofit’s presentation broke down costs of staying at their current location, but lacked historical information on the mansion according to commissioner Mark Urda.
Little Friends will now make a formal appeal to the city council to demolish their entire campus.
Briggs is hoping for the best, but is fearful of city council sticking with the HPC’s decision.
“It’s frightening in terms how I look at it because the reality is this, with the way the current offers are, that we have right now, we’re not in position where we could accept any of them and move to a new facility,” said Briggs.
Little Friends did receive an offer of around $4 million for their property, but said that was 30% less than the fair market value.
Naperville News 17 Christian Canizal reports.
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