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Article updated: 11/12/2012 11:23 PM

Realtors: Carol Stream library land worth more than appraisers say it is

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The Carol Stream Public Library's 7-acre vacant piece of land on Kuhn Road may be worth more than double or triple the amount an appraiser determined last year, according to three Realtors who addressed the library board Monday.

Last month the board directed Interim Library Director Marilyn Boria to contact Realtors to obtain the fair market value of the property at 480 N. Kuhn Road. It's the first step in a possible sale of the land, which was purchased by the library in 2003 to build a new facility.

Dick Wilson of Re/Max Associates West in Bartlett valued the land at about $1,167,000. Ken Muehlfelt and Sheryl Duncan of Realty Executives in Wheaton estimated the land's value at $1,897,000.

An appraisal in May 2011 by North Aurora-based Krueger Appraisal Services put the land's value at $580,000.

On Monday, the Realtors balked at that estimate.

"I just flat out don't agree with that appraisal," Wilson said. "That's the kindest thing I can say about it. In my opinion, that's flawed."

Added Duncan, "I can't even imagine somebody could do that ... I don't agree with any of it."

Muehlfelt, who is a business partner of Duncan, said they sold a comparable property in Glen Ellyn for $1.3 million -- and it was only 4 acres.

"I'd have a hard time justifying something at 7 acres at less than that," he said.

The library purchased the property for $750,000 in 2003. But voters rejected plans to build a new library facility in three separate referendums. Discussions of selling the land have resurfaced now that there's a new majority of trustees on the library board who have long opposed plans to build a new library -- and have previously expressed preference for selling the land.

Board members asked the Realtors about the property's chances of selling in the current real estate market.

Wilson said the market is improving, but it's still on the decline. The marketplace for vacant land, he said, is "very poor."

"You can't finance vacant land unless you know somebody," Wilson said. "West Suburban Bank is not lending on vacant land unless somebody is investing a lot of their own money into the project and they plan to build a subdivision or something on it immediately."

Duncan said she sold the Glen Ellyn property to LaSalle Bank with the intention that an Alzheimer's facility will locate there. The other offers received were from a private school and a "nationwide builder."

"Those people are out there and they're looking all the time," Duncan said. "Some builders are standing back and waiting to see what happens. Most of these people who call have the money."

The library board is expected to host a joint meeting with the park district board next Monday to discuss a possible lease deal for the Kuhn Road property.

Parks officials have expressed interest in using the land for trails or other recreational uses for a nominal fee.

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