Sunday, August 20, 2006

Goodbye Geneva Greenhouse


"The Little Greenhouse"

Craig at the checkout counter

Original Benches Dated 1926

Elizabeth, the Perennial Queen!

GENEVA - Luxury single-family homes will sprout up where the Geneva Greenhouse currently sits on Western Avenue.

After more than 40 years in business, the greenhouse will close at the end of July, leading the way to residential development on the nearly 8 acres.

"From what I understand, the developers have been making offers and making offers, and this year somebody made them an offer they couldn't refuse," said Craig MacLean, the greenhouse's general manager. "Everybody knew it was going to happen someday."

MacLean said paperwork had not yet been signed, and the name of the potential developer had not been released. The property soon will be sold, however, and the plan is to construct high-end homes, he said.

"Considering the quality of the home builders we have in the Fox Valley, I'm sure the development forthcoming will be beautiful," Mayor Kevin Burns said.

Community Development Director Dick Untch said the city was aware of discussions about the sale and development of the 1115 Western Ave. property but said no developers have contacted the city with any proposals.

"It sounds like it's still very early in the picture here, and we'll see what happens," he said.

The property is zoned R-1 residential, which calls for single-family homes. Untch said he did not know how many homes could be put on that property.

The two existing houses near the greenhouse would be demolished, MacLean said.

The Geneva Greenhouse is the most recent of area greenhouses to close.

Frank's Nursery and Crafts in St. Charles recently closed, and 2005 was the last season for the Geneva Flower Farm on Kaneville Road.

MacLean said he and his wife, Annette, hope to bring a new retail greenhouse to the area, but said he could not discuss specifics because of a confidentiality statement.

"We're trying," he said. "We're trying really hard."

The closing of the Geneva Greenhouse is going to be a "catastrophic blow" to the Geneva Beautification Committee, said the group's co-chairperson and 4th Ward Alderman Dorothy Flanagan.

For the past 10 years, the greenhouse has supplied the committee with the tens of thousands of flowers planted in downtown Geneva each year.

The greenhouse also donated thousands of dollars worth of plants to area schools, churches, the female inmate garden at the county jail, Plant-A-Row for the Hungry, Reach for the Moon Foundation and many other groups.

"Geneva Greenhouse has always said, 'What can we do for the city,'" Flanagan said. "They really, truly were our partner in making Geneva beautiful."

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