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posted: 10/5/2021 5:15 AM

Industrial development could mean razing of Kane County historical landmark

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A project that would bring a $32 million industrial development into Elgin will also bulldoze a home designated a historical Kane County landmark if approved by the Elgin City Council.

The project would sit in what had been an unincorporated area between Elgin and Sleepy Hollow just north of I-90 and immediately west of the Elgin Oaks Industrial Park. It's also home to six single-family homes.

One of those homes, at 35W655 Toll Gate Road, was built in 1967 by local architect John Schmidtke, who lived in the home until his death. Kane County designated the home a historic landmark in 1996 based on the significance of the International-Style construction of the home.

The development of the two proposed industrial buildings totaling more than 435,000 square feet combined would require the demolition of the historic home. At Monday night's public hearing before the city's planning and zoning commission, no one spoke in favor of saving the property.

One neighbor testified that Schmidtke's former residence has been in bad shape for a number of years. A representative for the Atlanta-based development team testified that state historic preservation officials contacted about the home indicated no roadblocks to razing the home. The city council voted back in April to annex the property into the city. The city is not legally bound to uphold the county's historic designation.

Commissioners suggested photographing the property and donating the images to the Gail Borden Library to at least preserve the memory of the home. Developers said they are open to assisting any entity interested in preserving the home by moving it to another location.

Residential neighbors directly to the north of the project site expressed a number of concerns about water drainage, aesthetics and noise.

"Right now, we are surrounded by nothing but nature and woods," said neighbor Nate Klein. "If I wanted to live right next door to industrial, that's what I would have shopped for."

The development team said they configured the site plan to move as much of the possible future truck traffic away from the neighbors as they could. The commission also recommended additional landscape buffering to address any possible noise and diesel odor.

All of those are speculative concerns. The project, if approved by the city council, would begin construction in April without a specific tenant lined up to use the space.

The commission recommended moving forward with the plan in a 5-0 vote. The city council must also grant approval before any construction can begin.