Fate of Elmhurst's Lizzadro Museum building still up in air
The fate of the building housing the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art in Elmhurst's Wilder Park likely won't be decided until next year, park district officials say.
The park board this week agreed to continue exploring options for what to do with the 5,000-square-foot structure once the museum, which focuses on gemstones, mineral carvings and earth science, moves in late 2019 to its new home in Oak Brook.
Under the terms of a 1961 agreement between the district and the Lizzadro Family Foundation, the building at 220 Cottage Hill will become the district's property once the museum leaves.
That's the easy part. The tough part is what to do with the soon-to-be-vacant structure that opened in the early '60s, is showing signs of age and needs at least $1.2 million in repairs.
Commissioners say they want to continue studying alternatives for the site, including maintaining the building for park use; razing it and converting it to open space (possibly a sunken garden); or finding another entity that wants it for a use that's "philosophically aligned" with the district's mission.
Executive Director James Rogers said the board has the "advantage of time" to consider such choices in conjunction with its Vision 2020 planning process that includes looking at other district facilities with an eye toward meeting a desire for more indoor recreation space.
As the next step in that process, he said, the district will reach out to other agencies that may have interest in using the Lizzadro building, including, but not limited to, Elmhurst College, the Elmhurst History Museum and area schools.
If there's such a group, the district hopes to identify it by year's end.
The district hired Dewberry Architects Inc. earlier this year to assess the building and the team found several challenges for anyone hoping to reuse it.
While the overall steel structure appears sound, the architects said the roof leaks during heavy rains; one of its columns appears to be shifting; life-safety issues need to be addressed; and it is not ADA compliant.
Even without the cost of interior or exterior remodeling to convert the building from a museum use, the architects estimate it will cost $1.2 million to bring the building up to code. With the additional expenditures needed to renovate it for non-museum uses, the project would cost roughly $1.7 million, they said.
The staff recommendation to the park board indicated "it is not in the community's best interest for the district to consider a capital investment of this nature in a building that is nearly 60 years old."