Crash Champions of New Lenox proposes to renovate and enlarge the former Aldi store at 2080 Main St.
Aldermen reviewed the business' initial land-use proposal and gave an informal nod of approval. Crash Champions would have to get the site rezoned to carry out its plans. That will require a hearing before the city's plan commission, then a formal vote by the council.
The building is on the southern edge of the Windmill Creek commercial development, which has been there since 1990. The Aldi store was built in 1992 and closed in 2011 when Aldi opened another store a mile to the north.
Windmill Creek has been a tough sell for many years due to its lack of access from Randall Road and poor sight lines from Randall. It sits much lower than Randall, and to get to it, drivers have to use Main Street then wind their way around a gasoline station or past a car wash business.
A Burger King restaurant closed years ago; a Discount Tire shop has closed; and the center also hosts the seemingly cursed Golden Corral restaurant.
The Golden Corral building shell was finished in 2010, but because the property was caught up in a foreclosure suit that complicated its sale to a franchisee, the restaurant did not open until 2012. It closed in September 2015 because the franchisee had died the year before and mortgage-holders then foreclosed on the property.
The land is zoned for general commercial use. City officials prefer to have sales-tax generating businesses, such as stores and restaurants along Randall. But given that nobody has been interested in buying the Aldi building and that sales tax will be charged on paint, parts and other supplies at the body shop, aldermen are amenable to changing the zoning to light industrial or special business.
"It will be good to see somebody put a destination business in there," Alderman Alan Wolff said.
Crash Champions has locations in New Lenox, Crestwood, Plainfield, Mokena and Chicago. The business' proposal, including drawings of what is planned, can be found in the June 28 committee-of-the-whole packet on the city's website, cityofbatavia.net.
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