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No. 8 of 2010: Downtown Geneva's Evolution

There are a number of aspects to this story: the iconic vacant buildings for sale, the overall effort to reinvigorate Geneva's downtown through a rigorous planning effort, and the potential advent of a new historic district.

Perhaps one of the most fascinating stories of the past four months is one you might think of as a yawner.

Here's a confession: I'm a city planning geek. I like like all the conversations about zoning and what's  and adaptive reuse of historic buildings—the whole nine yards. But I also know that—while it's important, it's not immediate, and for some readers it's dull as dishwater.

So how the heck does it make Geneva Patch's "Most Interesting" list?

Well, there are at least three major stories that ought to start your blood pumping, at least a little bit.

(1)—Why should I care?

What's one of the things you like most about Geneva? Probably that it has , a  that makes the city something other than a suburban cookie-cutter. Maybe it's the nearness to Chicago but the convenience of the train. Maybe it's the that runs through it, giving the town an almost European feel. Maybe it's the relatively low crime rate. All of this stuff is on the table right now, part of the ongoing discussion surrounding Geneva's .

If you can't make the workshops, you can find three large buttons on the home page of the city's Web site.

(2) Proposed New —Why should I care?

You should care if you live there, because there will be a ton of new rules you'll have to follow. You might have to ask permission to, I don't know, paint your windows, if your windows have some history and you live in the area that runs along the east and west sides of Batavia Avenue (Route 31) roughly from the Geneva Train Depot to Fargo Boulevard.

"This is a significant consideration by the council that will no doubt cause angst, cause concern, and generate a multitude of questions," Mayor Kevin Burns said when the proposal was explained before the City Council in late September.

(3) —Why should I care?

There are a ton of major fixtures on the market right now. The post office, the old State Bank/302 West building at Third and State, the former Building. Theis planning to move from its current home to a bunch of properties that includes the old Cetron building. The US Bank property is vacant at North Third and Hamilton streets.

What else might be moving? How about the former Sixth Street School building, which houses the Regional Superintendent of Schools, or the former Fourth Street School, where the School District 304 offices have long had a home? What will happen with the building now that students aren't in there? Will move into the old library? What would move into City Hall? All this is pure speculation, yes, but interesting, as Arte Johnson used to say. Verrrry interesting.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Looking further into the future, what will happen ultimately with icons like the old ? The ? The Kane County Jail property?

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