Batavia Mayor Jeff Schielke says the city is seeing some significant growth in the way of new restaurants and housing starts.
He made his comments at the Batavia Chamber of Commerce’s annual Mayor’s Breakfast Thursday morning at Covenant Living at the Holmstad in Batavia.
“We created this event 35 years ago and it was intended to give an updated report on what’s happening in Batavia today. It’s not a history lesson as much as it’s what is going on,” Schielke said. “Today, quite honestly the big story is we’ve got more new retail businesses moving into Batavia than we’ve ever had before.”
Schielke credited “the demographics of Batavia” for the increase in growth, adding that “there is the perception if you move into Batavia, Geneva or St. Charles, there is strong buying power.”
“Our communities are relatively safe and there are great traffic numbers. If you look at our numbers out on Randall Road there are 50,000 cars a day on most days,” he said. “Specifically, the hottest thing this year is new restaurants with four or five new ones. I don’t remember a time when we’ve ever had that.”
Schielke also noted an increase in jobs as well as residential growth.
“We also have something like over 500 housing permits for new homes in Batavia. Some of them are already built or are in the process,” he said. “That’s also a big story.”
Members of the Batavia Chamber of Commerce along with city officials, local municipal groups and area residents came to the event, which had more than 140 registered to participate.
Shirley Mott, communications and membership coordinator for the Batavia Chamber of Commerce, said while this year’s numbers still lag behind totals of 175 to 180 from a few years ago before the pandemic, interest and attendance this year represents “a good number coming back.”
“We do this annually and have kind of always called it – sort of tongue-in-cheek – the State of Batavia Address. The mayor always does an informative talk about Batavia and new developments, what is coming up and what’s changing,” Mott said.
Mott said a cross-section of the city comes to the event, which is seen as important in terms of building connections within Batavia.
“It’s very vital that we do this. All our civic leaders come for the most part and well as aldermen and staff,” Mott said. “There are also people from the library, the school district, the park district and a lot of community leaders with businesses. It’s nice for people to network and connect with people outside their own offices … and maintain a pro-Batavia feeling. There are also people from the community who want to hear what the mayor has to say.”
The event was again sponsored by Northwestern Medicine.
Attendees like Beth Walker, executive director of Batavia MainStreet, said the event provides a good way to catch up “and see people who get stuck in their own little bubble.”
“When you work in the city, you kind of know what’s going on but this is a way for me to learn about more than what’s going on downtown,” she said.
Bill Hassert, a board member for Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, said Thursday was his third visit to the annual breakfast and that “I am so impressed with what’s going on. The activity level is unbelievable and I’m really impressed with it.”
“There are so many new businesses coming in and so much new real estate development and the enthusiasm people have for what’s going on,” he said. “People like the beauty of the river, the recreational and businesses opportunities here.”
David Sharos is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.