Icons for Sale: 2 Geneva Patch Reporters Tackle Series on Downtown Development

Series of stories on the dramatic changes and challenges facing Geneva's historic downtown continues this summer with weekly reports by two excellent Geneva reporters.

When Geneva Patch launched last August, I knew this new online journalism would be different than the print version I've practiced for most of my 27-plus years as a local news editor.

One of things I realized pretty quickly was that the in-depth, award-winning mega-stories I liked to spearhead as an editor weren't going to going to be in the cards—not with just little old me as the sole full-time employee, and not with the online attention span of most of us who get our information in this electronic form.

So, I told myself I'd tackle meatier stories in series form, breaking up a big meal into bite-sized morsels that have enough calories to satisfy.

The first series I started was called "," and its premise was something like this:

We are at a crossroads in the history of Geneva's downtown. There is no doubt in my mind that the near future—the next two years—will determine the downtown's fate for the next century.

Sound like hype? I don't think so. Just look right now at the iconic buildings that are up for sale or soon could be:

  • The Geneva .
  • The .
  • The former.
  • More recently, the .
  • The former US Bank Building at Third and Hamilton.
  • The building.
  • Possibly, .
  • Possibly, the Regional Superintendent's Office. (Former Sixth Street School.)
  • Possibly, the . (Former Fourth Street School.)

Throw in for good measure some iconic buildings that might or might not see adaptive reuse: The historic , the. And it's not in the downtown per se, but the former Kane County Jail property is an adaptive development opportunity that's had only a few equals in the past half century of Geneva history.

In a down economic time, survival is the first law of nature, and change is inevitable. The forces acting on the downtown perhaps are stronger and more urgent than they've ever been.

And a down economic time gives a the breathing room it needs to take stock. That's exactly what's happening right now with the .

As you might have guessed, my "Icons for Sale" series got off to a good start but was buried in the avalanche that is an online editor's to-do list. The series is rising again like a phoenix on the strength and passion of two young Geneva journalists: and .

Both are college students home for the summer and working for Geneva Patch. Their job is to do what the old editor couldn't—complete the arch, finish the project. Teach us something and learn something along the way.

Their head shots are attached here. I'll give them some guidance, but they're on their own, and their project will speak for itself. If you see them on the street or if they approach you with a question, please answer and throw in a spot of encouragement.

This is the intro to their summer series, scheduled to launch Thursday of next week and continue for 12 weeks. The journalism that happens after this will be of more than passing interest to all of us.


Rick Nagel
Geneva Patch Editor
June 3, 2011 


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