September 30, 2021

Naperville Preservation Files For Kroehler YMCA Landmark Status

Naperville Preservation, Inc. is not done yet with its efforts to have the Kroehler YMCA’s historical significance officially recognized. The group announced it filed an application September 24 to designate the building as a Naperville landmark.

Local Landmark

The group’s application to register the building with the National Register of Historic Places came to a halt as it wasn’t allowed access to the building and couldn’t provide information about its interior.   With that on hold, local landmark status was the next step.

“Local landmark status provides actual protection for a historic building in Naperville,” Naperville Preservation, Inc. President Becky Simon said. “It protects the front façade of a building. It requires city consent for any alterations to be done to the front of the building. It would also require city council approval of demolition.”

National Register status doesn’t provide that same protection. However, it would open the door for income tax credit for the owner to rehabilitate the building if they use the building to produce income – as much as 20%.

YMCA Owner

The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago currently owns the building. The group closed the building in 2020 and put it up for sale, citing financial stress sped up by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Man-Yee Lee, director of communications at YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago said in an email the group is “focused on selecting a plan that aligns with the City of Naperville’s vision” of an active, vibrant, and pedestrian focused downtown that balances community and economic benefits.

Kroehler YMCA History

Before it closed, the building was a cornerstone to Naperville’s history for over 100 years. It opened in 1911, after former Naperville mayor and businessman Peter Kroehler led the town’s 3,400 residents to raise construction money.

“This marks the point in time when Naperville changed from being an agricultural community to being a business community,” Simon explained. “Young men came here from the family farm; they needed a place to stay while they were staying at the Stenger Brewery or the Kroehler Lounge Factory. And what better place for them to stay than the YMCA.”

Landmark Application Process

Naperville’s Historic Preservation Commission will discuss the landmark application at a future meeting and decide on a recommendation. City Council will have the final word on the application.

The next Historic Preservation Commission meeting is December 2, but the agenda is not yet officially set.

According to Simon, “None of this is expected to be a smooth and steady path. We’re here; we’re committed for the long term. This building has had 100 years in Naperville and I’m excited to see what the next 100 years hold for it.”

Naperville News 17’s Casey Flanagan reports.

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