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Community center receives more time for Wiant House work

WEST CHICAGO – The Wayne and Helen Fox Community Center will now have until Nov. 30 to bring the exterior of the historic Wiant House in West Chicago into compliance with City Code.

The West Chicago City Council, with one member absent, voted unanimously Monday to extend the center's deadline, following a recommendation made July 14 by the council's Development Committee.

The center had requested more time after weather, unexpected complications and a need to redesign plans made the original deadline of July 31 difficult to meet.

Since beginning efforts this spring after a long, brutal winter, crews discovered the bricks of one interior wall had disintegrated into sand. Until the plaster from the outer part of the wall was removed, workers had no idea of the extent of the damage to that wall, requiring a new wall to be built to stabilize the house for exterior work.

With continued work on the Wiant House, the community center also has gained more intimate insight into the best ways to restore the structure, leading to some changes in the group's original plans and requiring the center to receive new Certificates of Appropriateness from the city's Historical Preservation Commission for the redesigns before they can take place.

"The end goal is to have the very best end product," center President and CEO Dave Sabathne previously told Suburban Life Media. "We believed that the city would be supportive of this extension with the compelling factors being that we want to get a better product, we want to get the very best end result."

Built in 1869, the house at 151 W. Washington St. was home to retired businessman Joel Wiant and later, West Chicago’s first city attorney, John Leedle. Despite its history, the Wiant House faced demolition at the hands of the city until the community center stepped up to buy the home from West Chicago in summer 2013.

The agreement between the city and center requires City Code violations on the exterior of the home to be corrected.

About 80 percent of the necessary exterior work to the home has been completed so far, most of it to address the structure's integrity isses, Sabathne said.

Many of the windows have been repaired as well.

Unless more complications are discovered – like the crumbling interior wall – he expects to have the exterior work on the Wiant House finished by Aug. 30.

The total cost for both the interior and exterior work is projected to be $350,000 to $400,000. Future plans for the interior of the Wiant House include office space downstairs and a two-bedroom apartment upstairs.

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