• Paula Krapf

Plans for new library to go before city agencies in 2018

The City of Geneva's Historic Preservation Commission reviewed the Library's proposal for a new facility at 210 S. Sixth St. on Tuesday, Dec. 19. The Library filed an application for a Special Use for Preliminary/Final Planned Unit Development Approval of a 3-story public library with 79 off-street parking spaces in the R3 Medium to High Density Single-Family District. The PUD application provides civil engineering plans, parking and traffic studies, elevations, and more.

The HPC will forward their recommendations about the character, setbacks, landscape, and scale of the new building to the Plan Commission. Meanwhile, the Library Board and StudioGC architects will discuss the HPC meeting and next steps when they meet on Dec. 21. The project will go before the Plan Commission, and the Geneva City Council, at dates to be determined in 2018.

WHY DO WE NEED A NEW LIBRARY? The process began more than two years ago when the Library Board evaluated the condition and operating costs of the current building and determined how to best serve the District in the future. The Board met with members of the community and also conducted a needs assessment of the facility, concluding that it made the most fiscal sense to build a new library that offered the space and amenities the community needed. The Board voted to go to referendum, and the community voted in favor of the building bond in April 2017.

HOW DID WE DETERMINE THE SIZE OF THE NEW LIBRARY? The needs analysis the Library conducted in 2015 recommended a 65,000-square-foot building for Geneva Public Library District, which has a service population of approximately 30,500. Currently the Library has the smallest building per patron than any peer library. The approximately 57,000-square-foot proposed building size will place GPLD just above the average, and the Library worked with members of the community and the Library Board to establish appropriate square footage.

WHEN DID THE COMMUNITY SEE BUILDING PLANS? Following the successful referendum, the Library scheduled a series of community forums to discuss specific design concepts for the new building, and the three forums were also videotaped to allow as many members of the community to participate as possible. That process lead to the design that has been submitted to the City of Geneva and its agencies to review.

WHY DOES THE LIBRARY NEED VARIANCES FOR THE NEW BUILDING? The Library's PUD proposal establishes a mini zoning district just for this building, and adjustments to the residential zoning code ordinance for the site for this new use is an allowable special use in this District. The adjustments occur mostly in response to community feedback received - both in general and from the community forums held regarding the design.

For example, the Library heard a lot of requests to minimize the view of the parking lot, so architects created a park-like setting with fewer parking stalls - 79 - and that requires a variance. The Library also got feedback asking architects to minimize the appearance of the height of the building, while still remaining at or below the height of the former Sixth Street School building. The building is partially buried 4 to 6 feet below grade at the corner of Sixth and Campbell, while the top story is set back from the perimeter, and that requires a variance.

WHEN DID THE DESIGN PROCESS FOR THE NEW BUILDING BEGIN? Building sketches circulated before the referendum were for scale only. At that time, the Library did not want engage architects to design a new building without first having permission from the community to move forward. After the referendum passed, the Library contracted StudioGC to begin design work.

WHEN WILL THE NEW LIBRARY BE OPEN? The goal is to meet with Plan Commission and City Council in 2018 and start construction later in the year, with a prospective opening date in mid-year 2019.

Continue to keep up with the progress on the new building plans at Please contact us anytime at



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