Kane County officials are expected to put the former Sixth Street School property in Geneva on the open market next month.
If that occurs, it may force Geneva Library officials to decide if the long-coveted 2-acre property is still the future home of a new library or if a better and cheaper site is the more reasonable alternative.
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The library's decision may hinge on what offers Kane County gets for the property. The building is the current home of the Kane County Regional Office of Education, which will relocate to a larger space following the sale.
In a perfect scenario for library officials, Kane County would sell the building directly to them. The library commissioned an appraisal for the old school property earlier this year, which set the value at no more than $1.2 million. But Kane County obtained its own appraisal, which came back at $1.7 million.
"Because there's such a big variance, rather than rely on the opinion of an expert, we should go out and see what the market says its worth," Kane County Board Chairman Chris Lauzen told the administrative committee this week. "If someone in the market comes back at $1.7 million or $1.8 million, Geneva Library can come forward and match that."
Indeed, the library has a first right of refusal on the property that would give library officials a shot at a counteroffer no matter what the price ends up being. That will only happen if the library is still interested. Trustees also have their eyes on a 6.5-acre site that is the vacant former home of the Geneva Greenhouse.
County officials could make the Sixth Street property more attractive to the library and any other developer if it demolished the existing old school. County staff members said the building is in poor condition with only minimal maintenance performed in recent years.
County board member Phil Lewis spoke in favor of at least getting a demotion quote. The county doesn't want to sink much more money into the property before a sale. But Lewis said he doesn't want a developer to buy the land, fall into trouble, and stick Geneva with a large, vacant building that could be a problem for the surrounding community.
"I just wonder if it is in our best interest to demolish the building and do the site prep," Lewis said. "We may be better off financially, and Geneva may be better off."
Geneva Library Board President Esther Steel could not be immediately reached for comment Friday.