Looking for an old library building? There's one for sale in Lake Villa

  • The Lake County Sheriff's Office is renting a portion of the former Lake Villa District Library building on Grand Avenue in Lake Villa. The building recently was listed for sale for $2.99 million.

    The Lake County Sheriff's Office is renting a portion of the former Lake Villa District Library building on Grand Avenue in Lake Villa. The building recently was listed for sale for $2.99 million. Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

  • The former Lake Villa District Library is for sale.

    The former Lake Villa District Library is for sale. Courtesy of M.J. Freund

  • Signs in the windows of the former Lake Villa District Library direct patrons to the library's new location on Munn Road in Lindenhurst.

    Signs in the windows of the former Lake Villa District Library direct patrons to the library's new location on Munn Road in Lindenhurst. Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted11/25/2019 5:28 AM

Lake Villa District Library officials say their spacious new $18 million building on Munn Road in Lindenhurst has been well-received. Will that be the case for the old one about a mile away?

"The number one question we get is, 'What's happening with the old building?'" said library Director Andy Lentine.

 

At the moment, the Lake County sheriff's office is renting a small portion of the building for one of its investigative units, which has been relocated from its Waukegan headquarters due to space issues.

"In our minds, to have a renter occupying the space, even minimally, is paramount," said Nina Kenney, the library's PR/marketing coordinator.

But the intention always has been to sell the library's longtime former home at Grand Avenue and Deep Lake Road in Lake Villa, Lentine said. With everyone settling in at the new building, the old one recently went on the market for $2.99 million.

Robert E. Frank's firm has been hired to find a buyer for the 230,613-square-foot building on 5 acres.

"It's going to be marketed however he can, but it's going to have to be the right buyer," Lentine said.

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Frank, who has operated his own real estate business for 30 years, said the building "could be repurposed into so many uses."

"I think the 5 acres of land with more than adequate parking -- you can't build a building like this for the asking price," he said.

But he is in uncharted territory.

"Our office has never sold a library," Frank said.

But he has dealt with some unusual spaces. Frank recently was involved with the sale of the former Chrysler dealership at 136 Cedar Ave. in Lake Villa to Harbor Brewing LLC for a craft brewery.

A Trader Joe's or Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant would be ideal for the old library, Frank mused. But a greater surrounding population would be needed to support that kind of use.

A food court concept, distillery, brewery, medical office, corporate headquarters or public service use also are on Frank's wish list.

"If we have a single user it would probably be medical or something that would fit right in with the neighborhood," he said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"But I think it's going to have to be probably multiple users."

Marketing materials tout the building as ready to be repurposed, with a massive entry, public bathrooms, meeting space, reception areas, a two-story vaulted atrium and large windows with views of wetlands to the south.

But there is no identifiable style to the building that became the library's home in 1980 and was expanded and renovated in 1999.

"It's kind of hard to get your arm wrapped around a structure like this," Frank said.

Meanwhile, the sheriff's office is using about one-eighth of the building, which gives detectives room to conduct investigations and collaborate on cases as a team, according to Sgt. Chris Covelli.

Funding of $900,000 is recommended in the 2020 county budget to create construction documents for a new sheriff's office facility in Libertyville, he said.

The sheriff's office has a renewable one-year lease at the library building, but there is a 30-day cancellation clause, Lentine said. The lease amount covers utility costs.

"Nobody wants to see a building sitting empty for any length of time, particularly a tax-supported building," Lentine said.

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