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Naperville City Council Denies Landmark Status for Kroehler YMCA Building2

Naperville City Council Denies Landmark Status for Kroehler YMCA Building

Naperville City Council denied landmark status for the former Kroehler YMCA building in an 8-1 vote yesterday, following the recommendation from the Historic Preservation Committee to reject the request.

Argument To Landmark

Naperville Preservation Inc. argued that the Kroehler YMCA met four out of five criteria for landmark status and its building represents a YMCA style of architecture. The group also emphasized its unique location in-between two historic buildings: Naperville Woman’s Club (Old Stone Church) and the Old Nichols Library. The group believes both demonstrate a great example of an adaptive building strategy for older buildings.

YMCA Position

The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, the current owners of the Kroehler YMCA property, emphasized that the deferred maintenance over the years of the 110-year-old building has made it financially unattractive to buyers. The YMCA also mentioned its own need to maximize the value of the building at 34 S. Washington Street to further its mission of developing strong children and families.  The Fry Family YMCA is now the only YMCA facility in Naperville.

Naperville Preservation Inc. was only seeking landmark status for the original YMCA building built in 1910 and not the two additions to the north side of the building in the 70’s, which added a new pool and racquetball courts.

Discussion

Councilwoman Theresa Sullivan said it was a tough call. She noted that it is a loss of history and sustainability, but supported the right of the YMCA to sell the property.

Scott Day, the attorney representing the YMCA, mentioned in his presentation the economic impact that for the city of Naperville. He read an endorsement from Christine Jeffries of the Naperville Development Partnership who pointed out that the Kroehler YMCA stands at a key entry point to Central Park.

During public comment, Historic Preservation Committee Commissioner Mark Urda council to table the decision for two weeks in an effort to gain time for a new idea.  His concept was for the City of Naperville to purchase the property and contract with preservation architectural firm Gorman and Co. to help preserve the Kroehler YMCA.  After a short discussion the council decided to continue on with the proceedings.

Landmark Procedure

During new business Mayor Steve Chirico and council directed staff to review the current landmark status procedure and best practices and create a future report.

Naperville News 17’s Liz Spencer reports.

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