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City, private contributions to be determined as Woodstock seeks Old Courthouse proposals

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014 4:38 p.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014 11:44 p.m. CDT
(Shaw Media file photo)
Opened in in 1858, Woodstock's Old Courthouse was home to McHenry County government and the courts system through the 1970s when the county moved operations to Route 47 and Ware Road.

WOODSTOCK – The $2 million figure originally presented as the city’s contribution toward Old Courthouse renovations ultimately might not mean much as officials talk with potential developers about the historic property.

The city’s request for proposals, which went out Jan. 15, asks for potential owners to include restoration and budget plans, among other details. An architect’s report had originally suggested that the city would cover $2 million in renovations before turning the property over for an additional $2.7 million in renovations by a private owner.

The request for proposals states the property is offered “as is,” but City Planner Nancy Baker said officials would consider further preservation efforts under the right proposal.

“That’s what we want a developer to tell us,” she said.

In the fall, the City Council accepted a $376,000 bid to repair the courthouse’s dome and roof. But many repairs originally identified as within the city’s scope are yet to be started.

The request for proposals, a 15-page document giving an overview of the project and how to put in for it, is available online at the city’s website, www.woodstockil.gov, or the Courthouse’s marketing website, www.woodstockcourthouse.org.

The city also has prepared a separate document with guidelines and recommendations for the restoration. The document, prepared after examinations of the building by the Woodstock Historic Preservation Commission, encourages repairs that maintain the character of the structure.

Baker said the city would likely hold firm against changes to some of the more defining characteristics: the original curved stairway, decorative support columns and the open hall space on the first and second floors, among others.

“And then there’s other things in there that ... given the right justification, we would consider other changes,” she said.

City officials haven’t set a timeline for when renovations would need to be completed.

Proposals are due May 1. If more than one attractive proposal comes in, the city will consider having developers present their vision to the public, Baker said.

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