Sycamore City Council OKs facade grants for multifamily buildings

Sycamore Fire Lt. Adam Honiotes (left) shows 1st Ward Alderman Alan Bauer (right) the mobile training unit that the fire department recently purchased with a grant shortly before the City Council meeting Monday at the Sycamore Center, 308 W. Main St. The City Council also approved new vehicle purchases for the police department, city street maintenance program funding and structure removal and resource center building on the Engh Farm Property, 1730 N. Main St., during the City Council's first meeting of fiscal 2019.[]

SYCAMORE – The Sycamore City Council voted unanimously during their meeting Monday to give city grants to help fund exterior improvements for two multifamily buildings at 471 and 477 E. State St. after controversy of evicted residents because of interior and exterior renovations arose.

The council vote, 8-0, came after residents of the buildings recently voiced their concerns about the applicant, Carlson Royer LLC, receiving city funds for their project after tenants received eviction notices April 19, saying that the residents – who were on month-to-month leases – needed to be out of the units by May 31.

The Gateway Improvement Program through the city is meant to improve the aesthetic appearance of buildings at the city’s gateway areas by giving money to property owners to make exterior improvements. Applicants can be given no more than $5,000 a building for projects that meet program guidelines.

Carlson Royer, out of Sycamore, is asking for $10,000 – $5,000 for each building – out of their anticipated total of $40,000 for exterior renovations. Scott Carlson, one of the new owners of the buildings, was the only one who spoke during public comment relating to his company’s grant application.

When asked by 1st Ward Alderman Alan Bauer if there was any way to relocate current residents to other units until they finish with renovations, Carlson said residents needed to be out of their apartments during the $300,000 interior renovations, which are not covered by the city grant, because they must shut off all utilities. Carlson said current residents are welcome to return to the complex once renovations are complete.

City Manager Brian Gregory said the city was aware of deteriorating interior conditions of the more than 20 unit complex under the previous owner of the properties. Gregory said the city also fined the previous owner for not having working heat in the units.

“This last landlord was the perfect example of an absentee landlord,” Carlson said.

Sycamore City Manager Brian Gregory said he wanted to emphasize that the city looks at applications from an objective and technical standpoint and isn’t involved in private landlord-tenant matters.

“It’s something, unfortunately, that has been long overdue,” Gregory said.