Photo by Diane Cox
The 52-year-old Citizens Building in East Alton.
EAST ALTON — Much conversation has swirled around the Citizens Building in East Alton after it was announced in early February the distinctive round structure would be demolished.
East Alton Village Board members decided they weren’t in a hurry to destroy the building if there’s legitimate interest in the structure.
“I would say we have received mild interest at this time,” East Alton Mayor Joe Silkwood said. “I think mostly historical groups would like to see it renovated. The Village Board and many of our residents would like to see the building renovated and occupied. That’s just it; if it’s purchased, who will buy it and for what? At this point we are willing to wait and see what any marketing strategies may turn up.”
East Alton Superintendent of Building and Zoning Roger Werts said when the announcement was made in February, the 52-year-old building had been on the market for almost a decade and potential owners would have to make a major investment in the building.
“We know this is an interesting situation,” Silkwood said. “Once the building is torn down, it’s down so we’d hate to rush into it. Any future potential owner will not just have the renovation costs, they will also have to figure out what the building could be used for. The new owner will have to have a return on their investment. We are certainly willing to wait a while and see how things play out.”
In an AdVantage News column in March, Wood River resident Don Mitchell stated, “Any genuine effort put forth in earnest to revitalize Berkshire Avenue should include preserving this historic landmark and restoring it to some semblance of its former grandeur. It is sad to think that this magnificent work of art may no longer serve as a backdrop for the annual soap box derby, or be gazed upon in wonder by children.”
Silkwood said no timetable has been set concerning the building’s future, only that the plans to demolish the building have been put on hold.
“The Village Board and I would prefer the building to be occupied rather than destroy it,” Silkwood said. “We won’t invest in the building as a village because we have no use for it. We have a fantastic recreation center at the Keasler Complex and it wouldn’t be cost-effective to renovate it without a plan for a return in investment. We would rather see it used for a purpose so it’s worth the wait with this revitalized new interest.”
Anyone interested in purchasing the Citizens Building can contact East Alton Village Hall, 119 Main St.; call the village clerk at (618) 259-7522.