On May 15, it was almost two years and one month to the day when the village of Riverside announced that a suburban roofing contractor named Giuseppe Zappani was buying the Arcade Building.

What exactly that announcement on April 16, 2010 signaled was unknown at the time. Riversiders were told Zappani was planning on restoring the building. But residents had been told a lot of things since the Arcade Building began its long, strange journey into the U.S. real estate market abyss, helped along by the Wextrust securities scandal. The Arcade Building was Riverside’s hometown object-lesson in the kind of greed and malfeasance that nearly brought the country’s economy to the ground.

Zappani officially bought the building in August of that year and set about making good on his word to Riverside officials that he was going restore the exterior of the building to its former glory.

Last week, except for a couple of minor details, that work was completed. A copper tower, topped by a five-foot finial was hoisted to the center of the building and framed on each side by two more finials.

With that, Riversiders can for the first time, probably since the 1920s, gaze upon the closest approximation of what that building looked like when it was built in the 1870s. The original tower was made of painted wood, but the copper replacement will certainly last longer and will weather into a more subtle patina.

The task now, of course, is to get the ground floor retail spaces of the building leased. Two of those spots opened for business last week. Units on the second and third floors, comprising offices and two apartments, are also rented.

On May 24, the Chicago Association of Realtors will honor Zappani with one of its 2012 Good Neighbor Awards, which are given annually to “projects that have added to their local economies, saved historic buildings or replaced neighborhood blights.”

In the case of the Arcade Building, Zappani has done all three. He deserves all of the recognition he has received and will receive related to his efforts in downtown Riverside.

Fond farewell

The end of a school year is a special moment – for kids, for parents, for the schools themselves. They are at the same time a goodbye and a new beginning. Throwing those mortar boards in the air not only expresses relief, but signals the freedom to move ahead, inspired by learning.

It’s the kind of learning fostered by teachers like Jan Goldberg and Kevin McOlgan and George Miller, who are retiring after decades of service at Riverside-Brookfield High School.

Their students past and present can testify to the impact each had on them and on the school. Their dedication and ability to inspire are daily examples to kids; they set a bar for excellence that students stretch to achieve.

High school is a time for growth and personal discovery. To have such teachers help guide students during that journey is a blessing. They’ll all be missed.