WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Historic Downtown Facade Will Come Down

Macomb, IL – An historic brick facade in downtown Macomb will be torn down, after standing on the Courthouse Square for 114 years.

Macomb's Historic Preservation Commission unanimously granted the building's owner, Don Dieke, permission to tear down the facade should he maintain ownership. Dieke says he's in negotiations with someone who wants to purchase the property, but those details have not yet been finalized.

The building at 119-121 South Side Square was destroyed by fire in early March. The facade was preserved, but Dieke says maintaining the facade is too much of a liability. At the Commission's special meeting last week, it appeared the potential new owner wanted to keep the facade intact. That is apparently no longer the case.

Macomb Mayor Mick Wisslead says any potential new owner will likely leave the property vacant.

"As far as the economics of building a brand new building, you're talking upwards of $1 million to replace that square footage," says Wisslead. "In this economy, I don't think there's anyone that's got that deep of pockets."

Community Development Coordinator Ed Basch says the demolition orders are a done deal unless the city council intervenes. He says aldermen could halt him from proceeding with the order if they want to review the information.

Dieke says he and his wife are "too old" to rebuild their business and start from scratch, so a sale of the property is imminent. But it's still unclear what, if anything, will replace the historic brick facade, and the building that once stood behind it.

To listen to the Preservation Commission's conversation about the facade, you can click play on the audio link above.