Gayle Jetchick of the Havana Business Improvement Districthas waited years
for Aurora's old Fan Fair building to turn into something -- anything! -- else. Last night, her wish came one step closer to reality, when the Aurora Urban Renewal Authority (which is made up of city council members) voted nine to two to purchase the 10.5 acre property with the odd building that looks like a a bulbous circus tent or perhaps a series of golf balls cut in half.
"This opens up so many possibilities," says Jetchick, the executive director and only employee of the district. "We're so excited. We want this area to be redeveloped. It's what my board calls the missing link of the Havana corridor."
Fan Fair opened in 1962 on Havana Street as a warehouse-type retail operation similar to today's Costco. But the venture wasn't very long-lasting, and the building has sat vacant since the 1980s. Plans to revitalize it have come and gone; a recent idea to raze Fan Fair and build high-rises on the site fell apart due to the economic downturn.
In 2010, a 103-acre area of the city known as Havana North was declared "blighted" under the state's urban renewal law. Fan Fair is within that area. To qualify as blighted, an area must have four of eleven "blight factors," which include deteriorating structures and environmental contamination. Five factors are necessary if the city wants to use eminent domain to improve the area. A study found that Havana North has ten.
Discussions of what to do with Fan Fair began again about a year ago, Jetchick says. Last night, the city unveiled a purchase-and-sale agreement (on view below) that asks the Aurora Urban Renewal Authority to choose between two options: buying Fan Fair "as is" for $2.75 million from current owner Nevada-based Capitol Financial Ventures, or buying it after Capitol Financial Ventures cleans it up for $4 million. The building is full of asbestos and, Jetchick says, pigeon droppings that she's heard are waist-deep.
City council members have until December 11 to decide. They'll base their decision partly on the results of environmental tests that are slated to be completed by November 30. Andrea Amonick, the city's manager of development services, says the authority will borrow money from "other city funds" to pay for the property.
The Fan Fair building will be razed, officials say, but the city has no definite plans for what the site will become. "If the authority decides to sell the property to a private developer, it will issue an RFP," Amonick says. But it's not clear yet if that will happen.
Jetchick is happy that Fan Fair will soon be gone. "It is butt ugly and full of asbestos and bird poop," she says. "I live here. We're tired of looking at it." She'd like to see it become an events center that could be home to farmer's markets and festivals.
"The possibilities are endless," she says.
Continue reading to see a copy of the purchase-and-sale agreement. A note about the agreement: The city acknowledges that the building's name is spelled incorrectly in the contract. As pointed out by the Aurora History Museum, the correct spelling is "Fan Fair," not "Fanfare."
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