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Woodstock City Council mulls Courthouse proposals

Residents address council on proposals

Published: Tuesday, May 20, 2014 10:11 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, May 21, 2014 8:33 a.m. CDT

WOODSTOCK – A City Council meeting Tuesday night gave an early indication that officials might be open to the idea of selling the Sheriff’s House while holding onto the Old Courthouse.

But – during a short discussion of two very different proposals for the properties that came in this month – council members were hesitant to draw conclusions without having laid eyes on the proposals.

“I think we have to see the totality of both proposals,” Councilman Mark Saladin said. “I don’t think we should just foreclose the ability to look at it separately, if that’s in the best interest of the city.”

Last week, the Woodstock Old Courthouse RFP Review Advisory Committee took its first look at the result of a request for proposals that went out in January with a May 1 deadline.

The two proposals differ dramatically. In one, an Austin, Texas-based investment corporation wants to turn much of the Old Courthouse and Sheriff’s House into one- and two-bedroom residential units.

In the other, a North Barrington-based investor collaborating with the owner of the adjacent Square restaurant, La Petite Creperie & Bistrot, wants to put a restaurant and a tourism museum in the Sheriff’s House. That proposal wouldn’t include a purchase of the Old Courthouse.

Both investors would take on extensive renovations to get their respective projects ready.

An engineer’s report previously found $4.7 million in needs between the Old Courthouse and Sheriff’s House. The city has since taken on renovations of the Old Courthouse dome.

On Tuesday, community members addressed the council after its brief discussion of the proposals.

One asked whether the city would consider a continued advertising presence and future proposals. Mayor Brian Sager said the city continues to advertise. The RFP deadline doesn’t close the door to future owners, he said.

“There is a potential that additional proposals could come forward, and we have an obligation to the municipality to … make sure that we’re reviewing all proposals,” Sager said.

Jim Prindiville urged the City Council to consider the option of maintaining ownership.

“I would encourage you to not be afraid to say no to any proposals you’ve seen to date if you don’t think it’s absolutely the right thing to do,” he said.

The City Council likely won’t vote on the measure until at least mid-July, officials have said.

Read more about the history of the Old Courthouse sale here.

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