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Local News

Potential developers open to discuss moving Edwards House

The property at 942 Maple Ave. in Downers Grove, known as the Edwards Home, is a 1890s Queen Anne style Victorian home and is listed in the village's historical property survey as architecturally significant.
The property at 942 Maple Ave. in Downers Grove, known as the Edwards Home, is a 1890s Queen Anne style Victorian home and is listed in the village's historical property survey as architecturally significant.

DOWNERS GROVE – Developers looking to build condominiums at the Edwards House site aim to file planning documents with the village by next week, their attorney David Sosin said.

The development team is considering a plan to build 56 luxury condo units in a five-story building on two lots currently occupied by the historic Edwards House, 942 Maple Ave., and an historically insignificant home next door.

The plan has been met with concern by neighbors and residents in the village who oppose the possible demolition of the 1880s Queen Anne Victorian home built by early Downers Grove banker W.H. Edwards.

Sosin said the development team spoke with the Pierce Downer’s Heritage Alliance and Downers Grove Historical Society about the possibility of moving the Edwards House.

“We’re in the early sages of speaking with them,” Sosin said. “They don’t know that it’s feasible yet. You need to have a place to put it, and you have to have somewhere pretty close to make it worthwhile.”

Whether it’s moved or demolished, Sosin said developers don’t envision a plan where they keep the house, and pointed to the fact that it was most recently used as office space, and resides in an area currently zoned for business, not single-family homes. In addition, the village’s comprehensive plan calls for downtown business or mixed use development at the site.

“We’ve tailored our plan to plug right into (the village’s) vision,” he said.

The developer, Chuck Hannon, formed the Limited Liability Corporation named FFM-DG LLC, which has hired soil tests, traffic studies and other due diligence but has not yet closed on the property, which is still owned by a bank.

Sosin said the property is slanted, so that the first level of the five-story development would be partially underground, and would house 81 parking spots. The 56 living units would fill the top four floors.

Ken Lerner, chairman of the Pierce Downer Heritage Alliance, said he and others are working to collect the signatures necessary to form an Historic District on
Maple Avenue, but did not have a time estimate for completion.

“Speaking for myself only, I would say that having the Edwards House as a significant part of a historic district would be by far the best alternative,” he said in an email. “Moving the house to preserve it would be second best, but much better than losing it.”

It would take 51 percent of the property owners in the proposed historic district to agree to create the distinction, which would have to be approved by a review board and then the village council, according to village code.

Once created, any building permit, moving permit or demolition permit in the district would require a certificate of appropriateness granted by the review board following a hearing.

Certificates for minor exterior alterations or changes to items like fences and sheds, or to buildings not deemed historically significant, can also be issued by the village’s community development director without the board’s review.

Applicants denied a certificate have 30 days to appeal to the village council.

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