Upholding Geneva's historic integrity still outweighs the financial issues faced by the owner of the Pure Oil property on State Street.
The City Council's Committee of the Whole sent that message Monday night when it upheld the Historic Presentation Commission's February decision to deny developer Joe Stanton's plan for the land at 502 W. State.
The committee, after more than three hours of testimony and debate, voted 7-3 to back the HPC decision, with aldermen Sam Hill, Richard Marks and Dawn Vogelsberg unsuccessfully voting to move the appeal to the City Council.
Stanton has proposed a move to put a bank drive-through on the property and, in doing so, tearing down the Pure Oil Building. The HPC shot down the idea in a 5-1 vote, suggesting the building could be renovated to protect its historic integrity.
Stanton countered that the building cannot be anything but a gas station given its design and age. Renovation would be cost-prohibitive when considering how much he paid for the property in 2006 and how much it would cost to bring it into compliance with current building codes.
"The building was built to be a gas station and nothing else," Stanton said, noting he's worked through six plans in five years for the site.
Speakers calling for the HPC decision to stand offered a general theme of maintaining Pure Oil as a special piece of Geneva history that has not seen the end of its usuable days.
Prior to voting, Hill said there's a need to protect the building, but also to look at the big picture of revitalizing downtown. Fitting of that compromise, he suggested there should be enough community support to relocate the building.
"This town has a lot of money," he said. "I think there's an opportunity to save the building."
Pure Gardener presently operates on the site, but Stanton said its lease will not be renewed when it ends.