Downers Grove

Downers Grove district gets only one bid on Longfellow Center, may lower price

Downers Grove Elementary District 58 is mulling whether to lower the asking price for a former school after receiving only one bid for the property.

The district sought a minimum bid of $3.8 million for the 93-year-old Longfellow Center, which sits on more than three wooded acres at 1435 Prairie Ave. The sole submitted offer during the 60-day bidding period came in below what the district wanted.

“We could not accept that bid,” said Todd Drafall, the district’s assistant superintendent for business. “Our goal is always to make sure we don’t undervalue a district asset.”

Drafall, who spoke during the school board meeting July 12, said the bidder and another potential developer shared concerns with the district over the land price being too high since it also included building removal.

The estimated demolition of Longfellow could cost $500,000 to $600,000 – not counting the unknown costs for asbestos removal, Drafall said.

Another concern was the district’s six-month time frame to allow its staff to vacate the building. Longfellow Center was converted into office space in the 1980s. It houses maintenance services and the office of curriculum, technology and instruction.

“That six-month delay piece for developers looking to finance and them not having access to the property was also a concern,” Drafall said.

Drafall outlined potential steps that the district might take at its next board meeting in August to make the property more attractive to potential buyers. They included considering a lower sale price and having the district staff create an estimate on asbestos removal.

Potential buyers also would want assurances that all of the district staff would move out of the Longfellow Center, Drafall said. The district has plans to renovate an administrative building at 1860 63rd St. and move maintenance services to that location. It would lease office space for other departments.

School board members did not discuss some opposition to the sale of Longfellow from area neighbors. District officials have said the building is too expensive to maintain.