Six years after deciding to put the former Northgate water pumping facility property on the market, the Riverside Village Board on Thursday conceded that the land likely will never sell unless the old building is demolished.
Trustees agreed to have Village Manager Peter Scalera seek demolition bids for the pump house, all of the pipes inside the building and what’s left of the metal standpipe from the former water tower in the ground.
“It’s just continuing to deteriorate,” said Trustee Ellen Hamilton, one of two trustees tasked with recommending a course of action. “It’s just an attractive nuisance sitting there, and if we’re going to do something on it, let’s move ahead.”
Riverside dismantled the water tower in 2004 after taking its old water delivery system offline. Since then the former pump house has served as a storage area for village records, public works equipment and equipment belonging to the Parks and Recreation Department. In 2007, the village board agreed to sell the property.
Public Works Director Edward Bailey told trustees on Thursday that the building’s masonry has been steadily deteriorating. At some point, the building will either need to be repaired or demolished if it isn’t sold. Having been on the market for six year with few interested buyers, the latter scenario is looking dimmer and dimmer.
At one point it was believed someone might be able to retrofit the building and turn it into a single-family home, but the 1930s-era industrial structure isn’t really suited for that. There’s no plumbing, no insulation and no bathrooms.
“The current building could never serve a purpose as a single-family home,” said Trustee Michael Foley, who worked with Hamilton to craft the demolition recommendation. “It’s not a building that in any way, shape or form could be retrofitted into a single-family home.”
And demolishing the structure is no simple matter with the amount of concrete and piping involved, in addition to possible soil remediation.
“This is really beyond the scope of a smaller developer,” said Hamilton. “They just don’t want the hassle.”
The 125-by-135-foot parcel of land is zoned R-2, which allows both single-family and low-density multifamily structures, such as duplexes and townhomes. If the building is demolished and the site is cleared, said Foley, the land could be subdivided to accommodate four townhomes.
Scalera said he would include a $150,000 line item in the village’s 2014 budget to account for the demolition of the Northgate pump house. Once bids come in, the village board can choose whether to continue forward with the demolition plan or hold off.
One of the consequences of demolishing the Northgate pump house will be moving the items stored there to another location. There is a hodgepodge of structures — a pair of garages and the former Youth Center — behind and east of the Riverside Township Hall, but space is already cramped. And at least one of the structures, a garage formerly used to store Parks and Recreation Department equipment, is essentially unusable, because the roof leaks and the walls are buckling.
“I don’t feel it’s structurally sound,” said Scalera in a separate interview. “I’m afraid it will collapse.”
Any discussion of what to do with that garage could lead to a more global discussion of what to do with all of those ancillary structures, which have suffered from years of deferred maintenance.