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McHenry near purchase of Dobyns House property

McHENRY – The City Council could vote as soon as next month to spend more than a half-million dollars to buy the landmark Dobyns House property that has languished since fire destroyed the building and its restaurant occupant in 2009.

The council on Monday unanimously authorized Mayor Sue Low to “execute any and all documents including a real estate contract” to acquire the 2.62 acre property owned by the Charles J. Miller family trust.

The Dobyns House was built in 1929 at 1202 N. Riverside Drive. It was demolished after the fire that destroyed Joey T’s on the Fox restaurant, which was in business there for 10 years.

The property has been fenced off since then to keep people out for liability reasons, said City Administrator Derik Morefield.

As the city cleaned up boating docks and piers near the property, the Miller family approached it about a sale, officials said. “It’s our understanding that the offer is lower than the appraised value of the property,” Morefield said.

Miller trust representatives could not be reached late Thursday.

The acquisition won’t be official until the council amends the budget to cover the $550,000 price plus closing costs from the city’s general fund. An amendment is expected to be ready for a vote at the Oct. 15 meeting, Morefield said.

A repayment plan will be built in, he said.

The Riverwalk area is designated as a tax increment financing district and generates about $500,000 annually. TIF revenues generally have been going toward debt service for other downtown projects.

McHenry officials said the property is vital to redevelopment of the Riverwalk. “It’s a key piece of property with its access to the Fox River,” Low said.

Morefield said the city plans immediate improvements, such as landscaping, to create a “public space on site even as it redevelops” and hopes to find a developer to put the property back on McHenry’s tax rolls as soon as possible.

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