LOCKPORT – City officials in Lockport should learn Wednesday the scope of work planned for what is considered by some a major downtown landmark.
Developer David Mede wants to renovate the Volz Building, 933 S. State St., with a restaurant, bar, banquet and apartment rooms. Mede’s interest in the building comes after city officials bought the building for redevelopment in March for $250,000.
The building housed hotels, restaurants and other businesses in Lockport for its roughly 120-year-old lifespan. A fire about five years ago crippled the building and any interest in redevelopment until now.
“In its day, when it started out, it was quite the building, and it always had been until it got burned down,” said Reno Caneva, a Lockport historian.
Caneva said the Volz Building was a common stop for out-of-towners.
“That was one of the pillars of downtown not only to have a business but to have a place to stay,” he said.
The building wasn’t always named Volz, which comes from past owner Bill Volz, a former Lockport Township Park District leader. The Ward family owned it originally, Caneva said. Residents today may know it as the former Dreams restaurant and sports bar.
City Administrator Ben Benson said city staff worked with the previous owner of the building to redevelop it but there wasn’t much momentum.
“It came to the point where he was more interested in selling it. We decided it was important for the downtown to purchase and seek our own development,” he said.
Making the building an attractive place once more would aid Lockport city officials’ goal of raising the city’s profile in the Chicago region.
The building is located in a tax increment financing district but Mede is not asking for TIF funds or sales tax incentives or real estate abatements, Benson said. It’s a cash transaction to develop the building, he said.
Because the building is in a TIF district, city officials need to consider other petitioners who want to match Mede’s offer or better it, he said. A hearing on proposals for the building is scheduled for Oct. 29, with final City Council approval set for Nov. 5.
Mayor Steven Streit said the Volz Building has always been an important part of the city. The fire was devastating, Streit said, and he wanted to make the building less of an eyesore.
“When I came into office I wanted to make sure I did something with it. I couldn’t see it sitting there for another five years,” Streit said.
Renovations of the building will help “change the trajectory of our downtown,” he said.