Dobyn’s House purchase tied up in paperwork

McHENRY – Paperwork required by the state is delaying the start of cleanup and refurbishing of a riverfront property the city agreed to buy in October for $550,000.

City officials had hoped to start the work soon after closing on the purchase of the vacant Dobyn’s House site, which they said is central to downtown redevelopment. It’s at 1202 N. Riverside Drive.

“Additional environmental analysis needed to be done,” to complete the purchase, said ­Derik Morefield, city administrator.

The property, owned by the Charles J. Miller family trust, is where the 1929-built Dobyn’s House stood. A fire in 2009 destroyed the landmark building and the restaurant business it housed. After the fire, the building was razed and its two underground storage tanks were removed.

When it came time to close on the purchase, an environmental analysis of the property was missing. The analysis is required by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency for sites with underground storage tanks and must be reviewed for possible remediation.

“We could have gone through the transfer, but at some point in the future, when we sell, they’re going to want that information. So why not just get that now from the existing owner,” Morefield said.

The Millers have covered the costs of the environmental work and preliminary testing found no soil contamination.

McHenry now is waiting on the state agency to send a “no further mediation needed” order, Morefield said.

But the delay doesn’t make or break redevelopment of the property, he said.

The property sits in a tax increment financing district, whose funds next budget year will begin reimbursing McHenry’s general fund for the purchase.

TIF revenues amounting to about $500,000 a year generally have been going toward debt service for other downtown projects.

Once the city gains ownership, officials plan to make improvements, such as landscaping, and find a developer to put the property back on the city’s tax rolls.

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