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updated: 5/15/2013 11:13 PM

Waubonsee sells former downtown Aurora site

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Waubonsee Community College is selling its former downtown Aurora campus for $1.5 million to a firm interested in turning the two buildings into stores and apartments.

The college board approved the sale Wednesday night to Gorman and Co. It expects to close the sale in January.

The campus consisted of two attached buildings at Galena Boulevard and Stolp Avenue. One, the Block and Kuhl building, opened as a department store in 1928. Carson Pirie Scott had a store in it from 1961 to 1983.

The other, the Stanley Building, opened as a furniture store in 1925. Both are in the Stolp Island National Register Historic District.

The city of Aurora had bought the buildings in 1985. Then the college bought them, with help from the Kane County Public Buildings Commission, paying off its debt around 2007 or 2008, according to David Quillen, Waubonsee's executive vice president of finance and operations. The college invested $6.4 million to convert the buildings to classrooms, laboratories, a bookstore and a library.

Waubonsee built a new downtown campus on River Street that opened in 2011.

In other business Wednesday night, a dream college officials have had since at least 2002 is coming closer to true.

The college's trustees voted to submit plans for a field house to the Illinois Community College Board for approval.

The field house would be attached to Erickson Hall, which contains the athletics and physical education facilities.

The plan also includes renovations to Erickson. The project is estimated to cost $18.3 million and will be paid for with money the college has accumulated from when voters approved an operations-and-maintenance tax increase in 2003, Quillen said.

Quillen expects the ICCB could consider the plan at its June meeting and that the Waubonsee board could award construction contracts as soon as September.

Erickson is one of the oldest buildings on Waubonsee's main campus, in Sugar Grove. It was built from 1972 to 1974. Locker rooms were remodeled in 1987, and additions were made in 1994 and 1995.

Adding a field house is part of the college's 2020 master plan.

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