No buyers for Mundelein's former village hall

Mundelein officials have received no offers for the old village hall building since putting the Hawley Street property on the market in September.

Trustees and administrators had hoped to field proposals for the roughly 1-acre property at 440 E. Hawley St. by a Nov. 30 deadline. Although there were some inquiries, no developers pursued the site, Assistant Village Administrator Peter Vadopalas said.

Now it'll be up to the village board to decide what to do with the Alpine-style building, which has stood for nearly 90 years.

"We will discuss ideas about next steps at a future board meeting," Mayor Steve Lentz said Friday. "There will likely be different opinions about the future of the building, and those opinions should be discussed as a group."

With months having passed since the building went up for sale, Mundelein Trustee Ray Semple said officials can't be accused of rushing to judgment.

"We have been very transparent and patient, knowing the sensitivity about a piece of Mundelein's history," he said.

The building was constructed as a village hall and fire station in 1929. Through the years, it also was used as a municipal jail and a community center.

When a new village hall opened at 300 Plaza Circle in 2014, the old building became superfluous. It's been mostly unused since then.

The building has an odd interior layout and significant accessibility issues. In 2015, a committee studying the site's potential uses estimated renovating the building could cost at least $800,000.

Conversely, demolishing the structure could cost $158,000, the group said at the time.

Residents surveyed about the building's fate overwhelmingly opposed spending tax money on the building.

A nonprofit once discussed turning the building into an arts center, but attention shifted to other possible locations. Likewise, discussions about marketing the building as a possible restaurant site went nowhere.

Semple said he'd love for a "well-funded visionary" to step in and buy the building but doesn't expect that will happen. Realistically, Semple said he supports turning the land into a public parking lot.

Semple also would like the village's veterans monument, which now stands on a triangular patch of land on the east end of Hawley Street near Route 176, to move there.

"The monument deserves to be in a better location that is easier to get to with accessible parking," Semple said.

Lentz isn't a fan of the parking lot concept.

"Urban planners will tell you that one of the keys to a successful downtown is having attractive and interesting buildings along the street," he said. "There are good arguments to be made about reusing the existing building or redeveloping the site, and I want to have that discussion with the board."

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