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posted: 9/18/2017 5:50 AM

Mundelein’s old village hall up for sale

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Psst -- wanna buy an old village hall?

Mundelein's is for sale.

Village trustees are putting the 88-year-old, Alpine-style building at 440 E. Hawley St. on the real estate market. Starting this month, they'll seek formal purchase proposals from prospective buyers.

"Hopefully someone sees value in the building," Trustee Ray Semple said.

A sale doesn't mean the 8,500-square-foot building will survive. A developer could tear it down and construct something new on the roughly 1-acre site.

Of course, there's always a chance no one will be interested.

"We'll cross that bridge when we get there," Village Administrator John Lobaito said.

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

The site has been mostly unused since a new village hall opened at 300 Plaza Circle in 2014. A portion of a lower floor was leased as a construction field office during last year's Hawley Street widening project, Lobaito said.

The building and the lot were appraised at $380,000 in May, according to village documents. Under state law, acceptable purchase offers must exceed 80 percent of that appraisal, or $304,000.

In 2015, a special committee estimated renovating the building for a new use could cost at least $800,000. Conversely, demolishing the structure could cost $158,000, they said at the time.

There hasn't been a push to renovate the building with public funds, nor have village officials proposed doing so.

"It's time for us to sell the old village hall so it can be put to better use and be placed on the tax rolls," Mayor Steve Lentz said. "We need a private entity to step up and repurpose it."

The village board voted to develop a sales plan for the site in 2015, but the property wasn't put on the market at that time.

Last week, however, trustees voted to seek purchase proposals. They'll tell certain developers about the opportunity and post a sign at the building that it's for sale.

The deadline to submit an offer is Nov. 30. Officials will form a committee to review any offers this winter, and that group will be asked to make a recommendation in February, documents indicate.

Lentz said he'd prefer to see a developer renovate and preserve the building. He's open to demolition, however, if the end result is "an impressive downtown development."

"That would be a very sad day, but we must move forward to redevelop our downtown," Lentz said.

Semple would like to see a developer snatch up the site for a shop or restaurant. But he admitted he isn't holding his breath.

"The site may be best suited for a public parking lot ... with a monument acknowledging the site as where the first village hall stood," he said.

If the building is demolished, Semple thinks some of the architectural elements could be recycled.

"There are some beautiful hardwood flooring and railings, along with all the brick that could be re-purposed if its fate is the wrecking ball," he said.