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New owners aim to bring business to former DeKalb Clinic buildings

DeKALB – A DeKalb mayoral candidate and the owner of Lincoln Inn Restaurant are the new owners of the old DeKalb Clinic buildings.

At a public auction Thursday, First Ward Alderman David Jacobson bought the building at 217 Franklin St. for $110,000, while restaurant owner Bill McMahon bought the building at 302 Grove St. for $181,500.

Neither Jacobson or McMahon were specific about their plans for their respective buildings, but each framed their purchases as being beneficial to the community.

"We're working on a plan, but we'll figure out what the community needs down here," McMahon said.

The DeKalb Clinic vacated the buildings for a new facility at 1850 Gateway Drive in 2009. Dr. Roger Haab, the chariman of the DeKalb Clinic's board, said he had many memories of working in the old buildings, but the clinc outgrew them.

"It got down to a decision of 'what we are doing with the buildings?' " Haab said.

The one-story, 36,150-square foot building on Franklin Street had a fair market value of $986,000 in 2012, according to the county assessor's office. The Grove Street building, which is smaller, had a value of $312,928 in 2012.

Haab said they wanted always wanted to get the best value for the buildings, but clinic officials thought about the opportunities for the buildings and for the community.

DeKalb Public Library officials considered buying the two buildings for $1.8 million, but abandoned the plan in October 2010 amid concerns over an improper closed-session vote and estimates that removing asbestos from the buildings would cost $100,000.

Jacobson, already the landlord of a Northern Illinois University fraternity house, said he would be the landlord for the businesses that go into the Franklin site. Jacobson said he's been a big supporter of small businesses and wants to see more of them come to DeKalb.

"What better way to do that than getting involved yourself?" Jacobson said.

Jacobson said he would not tear down the building, and would work with local churches about using the various parking lots that also came with his purchase.

For his part, McMahon said he didn't have a grand plan for the Grove building, but that it would have nothing to do with the Lincoln Inn at 240 E. Lincoln Highway. McMahon said he's been in business for 20 years, and wants to see downtown DeKalb succeed.

"It's a great place, there's definitely some value down here," McMahon said. "Now the work starts."

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