The revamping of an old school building that had been vacant for several years has resulted in a positive ripple effect in East Dundee.
Businessman Tom Roeser has bought, gutted and created several office suites within the former Summit School, a move that allowed Dundee Township officials to escape the cramped basement in the Fox River Valley Public Library that had been their office for 38 years.
Eight employees from the Dundee Township supervisor's and assessor's office now work at a pair of offices inside the building, thanks to township residents granting officials permission to spend $370,000 to buy the space. The township went from about 3,400 square feet in the library basement to about 4,800 square feet in Roeser's building. The township's move frees up valuable space inside the crowded library. The township completed its move in November, and used money from its reserves to secure the new space.
"It's fresh and it's new and we're upstairs we're not in the basement anymore," Township Supervisor Sue Harney said of her new digs at 611 E. Main St. "There are windows."
The East Dundee village board this week agreed to reimburse Roeser for 30 percent of the $2.5 million he's expected to spend on rehab.
That $488,000 would come out of one of the village's tax-increment finance districts, and East Dundee would recapture that money by adding the former school to the property tax rolls, Village President Lael Miller said.
Roeser, who has already partnered with the village to spruce up its downtown, stepped in to buy and develop the school after the previous developer bailed on the project, officials said. When that happened, East Dundee asked Roeser, also president and chief executive officer of Otto Engineering, to take it over.
"That's why I call us a white knight or a catalyst," Roeser said. "At the end of the day, I'm unchanged, but everyone else is better off."
Roeser said he bought the building for about $900,000 and has so far spent another $700,000 on its improvements.
Culture of Africa for Kids Everywhere, a Chicago-based group that aims to educate children about the continent, rents office space inside the old school and hopes to develop a cultural arts center and banquet hall. Monday night, the village also agreed to use TIF money to help with that endeavor, but the agreement doesn't specify how much.