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updated: 8/22/2014 5:42 AM

After 3 years, still no buyer for Waubonsee's Aurora buildings

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  • Waubonsee Community College has extended its contract with a real estate firm to try to sell its former downtown Aurora campus at Stolp Avenue and Galena Boulevard. The college moved out in 2011 to a new building on River Street.

      Waubonsee Community College has extended its contract with a real estate firm to try to sell its former downtown Aurora campus at Stolp Avenue and Galena Boulevard. The college moved out in 2011 to a new building on River Street.
    Courtesy of Waubonsee Community College

 
 

Three years after opening a new downtown Aurora campus, Waubonsee Community College is still trying to get rid of the old one.

The college's trustees Wednesday extended its contract with U.S. Equities, a Chicago firm, to market its two buildings at Stolp Avenue and Galena Boulevard.

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The college has no active offers for the properties, according to James Sibley, the college's executive director of marketing and public relations.

He said the contract does not specify a set price to be paid to U.S. Equities to sell the buildings.

The two buildings, at 5 E. Galena and 14-20 S. Stolp, total 88,000 square feet. The Aurora Economic Development Commission's website lists them as Class B office space. A Class B building typically collects rents within the average range for similar, fair- to good-quality buildings in the area.

The college thought it had a buyer in May 2013, when it agreed to sell the historic buildings for $1.5 million to a developer who wanted to convert them to stores and apartments.

That deal fell through.

Then East Aurora School District 131 considered buying the buildings for academic and administrative use, again for $1.5 million, but changed its mind.

Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner in March 2012 proposed that the city buy the buildings to create a technology-skills job training center. He said it would be a cooperative venture between WCC, the city, the East and West Aurora school districts and the Indian Prairie and Oswego school districts. The city would have leased about one-third of the building to East Aurora District 131, he said, which would bring 90 of its workers to the downtown.

Aurora officials were not available Thursday to comment on what happened to that idea.

The two buildings are next to each other. The Block and Kuhl building on Galena opened as a department store in 1928. Carson Pirie Scott had a store in it from 1961 to 1983.

The Stanley Building on Stolp opened as a furniture store in 1925.

The city bought the buildings in 1985. The college bought them, with help from the Kane County Public Buildings Commission, and paid off its debt around 2007 or 2008, according to David Quillen, Waubonsee's executive vice president of finance and operations. It put $6.4 million in to remodeling the buildings for college use.

The buildings are in the Stolp Avenue Historic District and are eligible for tax incentives for redeveloping historic buildings. They are also in a tax increment financing district and eligible for development incentives through that.

Waubonsee moved out of the old campus into the $50 million new campus three years ago for more space. The current campus, at 18 S. River St., has 132,000 square feet. That enabled it to consolidate some of its degree programs to the benefit of students who live in Aurora, many of whom use public transportation to get to school, a WCC spokesman said at the time.

"Waubonsee has a long history of providing access to education and training for all members of the Aurora community in the heart of downtown, and I am excited about the new opportunities this expanded, state-of-the-art facility will provide for our students, employers, and community members," Waubonsee President Christine Sobek said when the new building opened June 3, 2011.

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