Safe Passage building to be moved to Rt. 23

By Nina Gougis

The DeKalb Plan Commission postponed Wednesday a decision to permit construction of a new office building on South Fourth Street.

The proposal, if approved by the commission and city council, would allow the owner of Ken Spears Construction to move the Victorian house owned by Safe Passage to a new location and construct an office building in the area at 838 S. Fourth St.

The proposed location was chosen to help preserve the Victorian house owned by Safe Passage, said Kathy Spears operations officer for Spears Construction.

Moving the house, which is now used for office space, would allow Safe Passage to keep the house instead of selling it to someone who may destroy it, said Pam Wiseman executive director of Safe Passage.

“We see it as a win-win situation for us and the city,” Kevin Spears said. “It warrants a little extra effort because it provides Safe Passage with a building they can use.”

A major concern of the plan commission is the design of the new building, which will be located near Illinois Route 23.

“It’s very important to maintain high quality standards at the gateway to the city because its appearance creates an impression for the rest of the city,” said Paul Rasmussen, community development director.

Commission Chair Rich Fassig said proper planning of the area could prevent future problems.

“What I don’t want is our successors 40 or 50 years from now spending hundreds of thousands of dollars repairing the area because we didn’t do a good job planning,” Fassig said.

In keeping with the masonry design of the area, the commission requested the west and south sides of the building be composed of brick or other stone material.

Kathy Spears, operations officer for the construction company and wife of owner Ken Spears, said although they are eager to comply with the commission’s requests, the added cost of the building could extend the time it takes to construct the building.

“If we have to pay more for the front of the building, we may not have enough funds to finish the back part of the building as scheduled,” Spears said.