Dist. 58 agrees to explore sharing space in proposed new Downers Grove village hall

A plan to build a new village hall that would also house the police station and a school district’s administrative offices could come to fruition in downtown Downers Grove.

Downers Grove Grade School District 58 Superintendent Kevin Russell emphasized the many cost-savings of a new building that would serve largely overlapping constituencies. The village and school district also would share spaces, including conference rooms, council chambers and break areas.

“It makes sense to see if we can do this without having to construct all these things on our own,” Russell said.

The proposed building would be around 77,000 square feet. It would replace the existing village hall and police station buildings along Burlington Avenue.

On Tuesday, Deputy Village Manager Michael Baker said a phased approach would allow the village hall and the police station to remain open during construction. Baker also said the estimated cost of the new building would be between $48 million and $58 million, with potential construction beginning in summer 2022.

Downers Grove is proposing the creation of 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.

n Monday, Downers Grove Elementary District 58 school board members approved key terms of a possible partnership with the village to construct the new building. Then on Tuesday, the Downers Grove village council discussed details of the project.

Downers Grove also is exploring selling a portion of its municipal campus 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.

Russell said the school district would likely lease 5,400 square feet of the new building for a 50-year term, which he said would also allow for growth. Downers Grove would own the facility, while District 58 would waive its right to any revenue during the lifetime of the TIF district.

District 58′s administrative staff is being transitioned out of the 93-year-old Longfellow Center at 1435 Prairie Ave. The former school was converted into offices in the 1980s. Now the district is seeking bidders to purchase and redevelop the nearly 3-acre site.

Most of the Longfellow staff members are relocating to 2300 Warrenville Road in Downers Grove via a seven-year sublease agreement with Aramark Corp.

Russell reminded skeptical school board members that the sublease contains an early-out clause after three years.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Russell said. “This is the furthest that we’ve gotten, and the closest that we’ve gotten is to making this a reality.”