Downers Grove, District 58 in talks to share proposed village hall building
Downers Grove officials have long wanted to replace and consolidate the village's aging police station and village hall with a single new building, and now Downers Grove Elementary District 58 is also in the mix.
In a first-reading presentation at Tuesday's village council meeting, officials announced Downers Grove and District 58 are in talks to relocate school administrative offices within a proposed police and village hall facility.
"The village and District 58 are exploring a partnership that would result in combining all of these functions into one building constructed here on the civic center property," Deputy Manager Mike Baker said.
"Generally speaking, we are serving the same residents," said Baker, who noted 93% of the village's tax base is within District 58 boundaries, while 82% of the school's tax base is within village borders.
Baker said the combined facility would be built on village civic center property, in the vicinity of the current police station at 825 Burlington Ave. and the village hall at 801 Burlington Ave. The yet-to-be-designed building would be 69,000 to 75,000 square feet with 202 parking spaces and some shared building spaces such as lobbies, conference rooms and council chambers.
To pay for the building, Baker said, the village plans to create a civic center tax increment financing district, where property taxes paid to local governments are frozen for up to 23 years. Any extra property tax money collected within the area after the district is established goes into a special fund to help pay for certain improvements.
The current plan also calls for Downers Grove to sell a portion of the property to a private developer for a potential apartment building. The village would use the property tax increment generated by the apartment development to help pay for the new village hall's construction. Downers Grove would own the facility outright, while District 58 would lease space for a 50-year term and waive its right to any TIF district revenue.
District 58 has been taking steps to sell off its 93-year-old Longfellow Center, a former school at 1435 Prairie Ave. that was converted into administrative offices in the 1980s.
Monday, the school board voted to drop its starting bid price for Longfellow Center from $3.8 million to $3 million, with a new public opening bid date of Sept. 27. District officials previously heard from potential Longfellow buyers that there were too many uncertainties about the 3-acre site, including the timetable for office staff relocation.
The district took more concrete steps in that regard Monday. The school board approved a $364,000 renovation bid to allow its maintenance services to relocate from Longfellow to another of its administrative buildings at 1860 63rd St.
It also voted to relocate other Longfellow office staff members via a 7-year lease agreement with Aramark Corp. at 2300 Warrenville Road in Downers Grove. The lease takes effect Oct. 1 and contains an early-out clause after three years to allow the district staff to move into the proposed village hall.
Downers Grove Mayor Bob Barnett and many commissioners enthusiastically greeted the new village hall proposal. Nearly all indicated they plan to vote in favor of the proposed facility at the next council meeting.
"It minimizes the amount of property in the village that is not taxable," Barnett said. "And ultimately, long term, that's a benefit for everybody in the community."
"It's a wonderful, proactive way to help our joint taxpayers," Commissioner Rich Kulovany said. "The synergism approach comes out as an amazing win for our village."