Old Library Stays Put as Tech Company Moves in with 100 plus Millennials
Ever since it became vacant, I’ve been asking the city on updates regarding the old library building at 1 E. Benton. It’s a neat piece of mid-century modern architecture on Stolp Island, and although the facade is not original, it is a historic and important piece of downtown Aurora.
The original Carnegie library features elaborate stairs and columns. The three-and-a-half story structure was built in 1904 and remodeled in 1969, according to the RFP (request for proposal) that Invest Aurora (then Seize the Future) put out in January. The original two-story structure was built by Eugene Malmer.
Shortly after the RFP was published, there was word that the old library could become an Indian cultural museum. More recently, the news spread that a tech company was coming, but the city would not confirm or deny the news until the official announcement at a press conference on Monday at the old library building.
Here is the official press release sent out after the afternoon press conference. No architectural renderings or plans for the building were on hand.
Less than 6 months after the Aurora Public Library moved to its new location, the former library building could soon have a new owner and be placed on the tax rolls.
On Tuesday, November 24, the City of Aurora Finance Committee will consider an intergovernmental agreement between the City of Aurora, the Aurora Public Library and Support Companies, LLC to purchase and re-purpose the building located at 1 E. Benton Street in downtown Aurora.
Administered by Invest Aurora, a request for proposals was issued for the adaptive reuse of the 42,000 square foot former library. The proposal received by Support Companies, LLC was vetted and highly rated by the City of Aurora, Invest Aurora and the library’s Board of Directors.
“We are very pleased with the proposal of Support Companies, LLC. Not only will the move bring more than 100 jobs to historic downtown Aurora, it will also place the former library on the tax rolls for the first time ever,” said Mayor Tom Weisner. “Aurora continues to grow into a hub for arts, entertainment and culture. With the recent moves of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, ByteGrid and now Support Companies LLC, Aurora is also becoming an emerging center for technology as well.”
Support Tech/Support Companies
The Support Companies, and its sister companies, are among the premiere technical and customer support enterprises in the Midwest, In business for more than 20 years, they currently comprise over 100 full-time permanent employees, more than 75% of them Aurora residents.
Specializing in providing support for cutting edge technologies, clients include large counties, banking institutions, hotels, and national corporate users. All of its major clients are traded on the New York Stock Exchange and new start-up clients are being added regularly.
“Our work environment is built to engage and support our workforce. We invest heavily in people and the community,” said The Support Companies, LLC President Ron Janusz. “Downtown Aurora is buzzing with new energy and we want to be a part of that. This is an ideal location for our continued growth and development.”
The former Aurora Public Library building will house its 24/7 contact center, training and product labs, IT and server operations and administrative offices.
Sold for $10
Under the terms of the purchase agreement, Support Companies, LLC will purchase the property for $10 and it will be placed on public tax rolls for the first time ever, benefitting local taxing bodies including the City of Aurora and East Aurora School District 131. Property taxes cannot be challenged for five years. Support Companies, LLC also will donate $50,000 per year to the Aurora Public Library Foundation for a minimum of five years.
In addition, the tech company will seek to facilitate additional users in the building that support technology advancement such as incubators, co-working spaces or other tech companies.
Under the agreement, the City of Aurora maintains approval rights of any purchaser in the sale of the property and will maintain the first right of refusal if Support Companies, LLC desires to ever sell it.
Aurora Public Library Board of Directors President John Savage said, “One of the goals of the library’s board was to not leave the former library vacant. This agreement accomplishes that goal and so much more. To say that we are excited about the opportunities that Support Companies, LLC can provide to our community would be an understatement.”
Millennials in downtown
A large percentage of the workforce at Support Companies, LLC are young tech-focused millennials who are in college or recent graduates. The proximity to Waubonsee Community College in the heart of Aurora’s downtown was one of the main attractions for the move to the former library site.
In partnership with Waubonsee Community College and the Kane County Workforce Development Division, Support Companies, LLC will establish an on-site training program to provide technical skills training and career connections.
“We are looking forward to providing opportunities right here in Aurora for young professionals looking to start their tech careers. Our relatively young workforce will help to increase a demand for housing, food and other cultural amenities,” said Support Companies Vice President Melinda Kruder. “Collaborating with local institutions will be a win for all involved.”
Support Companies, LLC has also partnered with OnLight Aurora to provide redundant internet and broadband services to the facility and is working with local architects for the internal renovations of the property.
Design work and floor plans will start immediately and buildout will begin in January. While the main floor requires no buildout work, the basement and second floor will undergo extensive renovations to accommodate staff, IT servers and the professional levels of technology and accessibility needed to provide high quality services to its global clients.
Support Companies LLC expects to have all operations and employees moved to the new location by the summer of 2016.