Elks Club Sold for $10, Renovations on Way...

A Milwaukee-based real estate developer is set to go ahead with a $2.3 million adaptive re-use of the former Elks Club building at Stolp Avenue and Benton Street downtown here. The City Council recently gave final approval to the development deal between the city of Aurora and Karademas Management, based in Milwaukee, and owned by David Karademas. The city is selling the building to Karademas for $10. As part of the development agreement, Karademas will put $2.3 million into the adaptive re-use of the building, preserving the Mayan-style architectural that has the building on the National Register of Historic Places, renovating between 25 and 29 apartment units inside the building, and adding in a 4,000-square-foot restaurant that will include an outside patio facing the floating stones along Benton Street. The agreement gives Karademas 450 days to complete the renovation. Karademas will deposit $500,000 up front, which the city will keep if the developer fails to complete the work within that timeline. The agreement also includes eventual renovation of two other buildings Karademas has purchased in the past year, Fox Island Place (the former Leland Towers) at Stolp and Galena Boulevard, and the Graham Building, 33 S. Stolp Ave. In total, Karademas will invest a total of $12.4 million into the entire project. The city will rebate Karademas about $1.2 million in taxes from the downtown tax increment financing. City officials have estimated the re-development will generate about $75,000 in property taxes a year. Karademas has already done substantial work rehabbing the former Leland Towers building, and eventually will put in a combination coffee house and convenience store in the lobby. David Hulseberg, chief executive officer of the Seize the Future, a non-profit redevelopment arm of the city, reiterated this week to aldermen that his...

Noon Year’s Eve at SciTech...

Noon Year’s Eve at SciTech SciTech Hands on Museum, a great place for all ages to learn about science in a fun, interactive environment, is welcoming area families to join in on a Noon Year’s celebration. The one-of-a-kind museum invites children to participate in creation stations where they will blend art with science. A science show is at 12:30 p.m. SciTech’s celebration is $12 and will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 31 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 3...

First Fridays is January 2...

First Fridays in downtown Aurora features art, music, and fun! Visit downtown galleries, pop-up galleries, museums, shops, restaurants, and more on the first Friday of every month. January 2, 2015 venues: ART: If These Walls Could Talk* (7 to 11 p.m.) The ArtBar at Two Brothers Roundhouse* (6 p.m. to midnight) Green Buddha Life Sustainability Center and Eco Art Gallery* (6 to 9 p.m.) New Hites Studios & Gallery (6 to 9 p.m.) MUSIC: Culture Stock (6 to 8 p.m.) River’s Edge Cafe (6 to 10 p.m.) featuring the art of Kit Sunderland SPECIAL TO FIRST FRIDAYS: SciTech Hands On Museum (6 to 8 p.m.)Free admission! YM Boutique with photography by Gabrielle Daylor   *denotes art opening *** First Fridays SPECIALS *** 20% off at Midtown Pub & Grill Get a FREE book at Green Buddha Life when you drop by during First Fridays. Enjoy 15% off at YM Boutique from 6 to 9 p.m. Eyeland Optical offers 50% off eye examinations including contact lens exam/fitting on the first Friday of the month. Pro Prairie Photo will give $20 head shots! Culture Stock is going BOGO!!! PME Cake Decorating is open until 8 p.m. with 20% off from 6 to 8 p.m. (during select First Fridays) First Fridays on Jan. 2 kicks off a full year of First Friday events The New Year brings twelve months of First Fridays to downtown Aurora. Don’t miss January’s kick-off of a full year of art, music, food, and fun on the first Friday of the month. Green Buddha Life Sustainability Center and Eco-Arts Gallery, 205 W. Galena Blvd., is open with artists showing in the gallery from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Featured artist is Carol Robinson with artwork inspired by photography and nature. If These Walls Could...

Kaye Mason: Leaving a Legacy on LaSalle Street...

  Kaye Mason is a self-made woman. At 90, Mason still comes into her office every day of the week and runs the business that she has grown since 1968. This month brings an end to Chek-Lab at 84 S. LaSalle St. in downtown Aurora. Due to health reasons and the changing world of the industry, Mason is closing up shop. She leaves behind a legacy on the street that she helped to mold. “We saw it coming,” Mason said. “Business was fading.” She added that she went from 20 employees to seven a handful of years ago. A good run Mason first entered into the blood labeling business when she started working for Professional Packaging; she owned stocks and Chek-Lab fell into her lap eventually. Mason remembers being paid $2/hour labeling pharmaceutical aerosol cans for “Pro Pack” in 1968. Chek-Lab is the first printer in the country for Blood Bank Labeling Systems, and Mason acquired stock in the early 1970s. Chek-Lab, along with divisions of FM Graphic Impressions, a commercial printing company established in 1903, and Professional Packaging, a distributor of pharmaceutical aerosol products established in 1947, functioned on the third floor of the current building that Mason purchased in 1977. Chek-Lab, which closes at the end of December, is the only business left standing. Chek-Lab is a national and international company serving the health care industry since 1947. They make labels for blood banks, hospitals, and clinical laboratories. In 1947, Chek-Lab patented temperature indicators for blood bags that are still used today. 30 year board member Aside from running her businesses, Mason has served on the Aurora Downtown board since its inception. She recalls working with the Bookman and Capraro team, who got the Aurora Downtown organization on its feet. Initial meetings...

Shop Local: Shop Downtown for the Holidays...

Shop local in downtown Aurora. We have blocks of fun and unique shops. Here are just some of the things you can fill your bags (or stockings) with at businesses located right in downtown Aurora. Did we mention the free parking? NOM NOM NOM If you have foodies on your list, then downtown Aurora — with around a dozen eateries — is a great place to fill up on gift cards, gift certificates and more. Here is a sampling of tasty options: Chef Amaury at 33 West. Located at 33 W. New York St. along Restaurant Row, this intimate, local restaurant owned by Auroran Amaury Rosado features several delectable courses inspired by local, seasonal and organic fare. Rosado frequently hosts wine dinners, and tickets would make an ideal gift for the foodie in your life. River’s Edge Café. They brew coffee, cook and cater at downtown’s only independent coffee shop located at 14 W. Downer Place. They’ll also make baked goods for you, or a frittata for holiday breakfasts. Their pumpkin muffins will make you want to practice your parallel parking. Fox Valley Homebrew. Two doors down from River’s Edge Café is Fox Valley Homebrew — a beer crafters dream. The small store sells beer and winemaking kits plus a whole lot of accessories for the hobby. Visit www.foxvalleybrew.com. BEAUTIFUL THINGS Wardell Art Glass Studio. You might not need stained glass, but Wardell Art Glass Studio at 28 S. Stolp Ave. has a small gift shop in front of the large street level workshop. Ceramic art tiles, gift cards and other unique gift items are available. The DLP. The David L. Pierce Art and History Center is a great place not only to soak in some art and culture, but also to shop. A gift shop to the left of...