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Park District Offices Will Relocate, Opening Up New Opportunities at Wilder Park

The move, which coincides with the restoration of the Wilder Park Conservatory, will eventually provide another facility for community use.

Elmhurst Park District will soon move out of the it has occupied since the 1920s, at 225 S. Prospect Ave. in Wilder Park.

On Sept. 14, the district will close on the purchase of a $1.1 million office/warehouse space at 375 W. First St., near Highland Avenue on the southeast side of the Elmhurst Quarry.

The Park Board approved the contract on the new property, built in 1953, at its June 11 board meeting. The building will be paid for without increasing taxes or fees for residents, since long-term debt refinanced in 2011 provided additional cash flow for the district, according to information provided by the Park District.

"The building was originally listed at $1.39 million," said Ginger Wade, director of marketing and communications. "The people currently in the building paid $1.2 million in 2000, so we got it at less than what they paid 12 years ago. We got a pretty good value for the building."

Conservation Design Land Stewardships and currently occupy the space. They will be relocating to a smaller facility in Elmhurst, Wade said.

The building has a green roof, which will reduce heating and cooling costs and capture rainwater for watering landscape beds throughout Elmhurst. It fits the park district's "green" mission, she said.

"We're probably the only ones in town that would want a building with a green roof and a warehouse attached to it," she said, laughing.

The warehouse will allow the district to demolish its storage garage near the Illinois Prairie Path and Safety Town, creating additional open space there.

The 8,000-square-foot facility will require "minimal build-out"—just a few fire safety and Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades and slight office reconfiguration, Wade said.

"It's really pretty much move-in ready," she said. "It has more than one bathroom, which we're really excited about."

The move will allow the existing 3,000-square-foot office at Wilder Park to be repurposed for use by the community, but long-term plans are still being formulated, Wade said. 

"We have a couple of concept ideas, but we will go back to the community (for input)," she said. "It does open up lots of opportunities."

Once the park staff moves out, more parking will be available for visitors to the park, and . Brides still will be able to use that building before their weddings at the formal gardens, but they'll have more space to get ready and to lock up their things.

"Right now, they're doing that on top of staff," Wade said.

Eventually, McHugh Construction will temporarily occupy the space as it begins the of the 88-year-old and greenhouses, which are adjacent to the administrative building.

"That will prevent us from having to put a construction trailer in the middle of Wilder Park," Wade said.

That project is being made possible by a $1.84 million state grant and is scheduled to be completed next year. While the work is extensive, the footprint of the conservatory and greenhouses will not change, Executive Director Jim Rogers told Elmhurst Patch last October.

“Given the growth of offerings that take place in and around Wilder Park, the current real estate market, and the upcoming restoration of the conservatory and greenhouses, the time is right to make the entire park available for community use,” Park Board President Colette Kubiesa said in a prepared statement released Friday.

Wade said she will miss her view of Wilder Park and the mansion, but she's excited about the move and what it means for the community.

"For a long time it has been a priority of the district to make better use of this building," she said.

KMCR June 15, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Well done, EPD! That wonderful old Wilder Park building will be much appreciated by many in the community. Wilder Mansion, the park, and the conservatory/greenhouse are jewels in our town. There will be naysayers, no doubt on this forum (as usual), but my family is thrilled!
D L June 15, 2012 at 07:32 PM
As I agree with KMCR, I do find it disturbing spending $1.1 million plus moving costs etc. in this tough economy. As a 57 year resident of Elmhurst, I cherish the old buildings and Wilder park, but maybe this expense could have been put off for a few years. Our property taxes are already insane......maybe, just maybe it's nothing more then bad timing....or bad politics !!!!
Dan June 16, 2012 at 03:22 AM
Does anyone know what the cost per square foot for the renovation of the Wilder Park Conservatory is? I usually walk through it a couple of times a year and every time I hear about the 2.4 million dollar renovation I keep thinking that it sure seems like a lot of money for a building with that size foot print. I know all the negativity. One shouldn't ask questions about such things.
Karen Chadra (Editor) June 16, 2012 at 03:41 AM
Hi Dan - I don't readily have the cost per square foot, but it's not just the conservatory that's being renovated. One of the greenhouses will be torn down and rebuilt, and the other greenhouse needs major renovation, as well. There's a lot more info about the rehab and the grant in this story: http://elmhurst.patch.com/articles/park-district-details-plans-for-conservatory-and-greenhouse-rehab
Doremus Jessup June 16, 2012 at 01:03 PM
The building sounds wonderful , but I wonder how much tax revenue we just lost per year buying yet another privately owned property? There has been some loss of the tax base in recent years for example: 162 N York, The old Athar restaurant on Addison turned into a parking lot, and the new hospital (we all now how that tax exempt battle is going to end). I think we need the alderman to put the brakes on any new buying that further dilutes our tax base. If we need to purchase new property maybe we can try to buy already tax exempt properties.
Tom Smalley June 21, 2012 at 09:03 PM
wow this sounds great, I remember telling my dad they need to preserve those offices and of course the mansion next door, at one time they were going to move the offices the the mansion and i told my dad no they need to restore it ,well glad they did, Elmhurst was glad to have someone to volunteer for 30 years to give the residents all the places and parks folks could go , so i was also glad they renamed the new pool to "Norman P. Smalley Pool to pay tribute to one that served his town that long ,I did reflect a little this passed Fathers Day , I think at one time they were going to tear down that old depot on york rd where they want to tear down the old storage , i think a building that combines Both Office and storage as well as preseve the old office's is getting more bang for a buck and is something Elmhurst should be proud of and Not raising taxes by the EPD, i still remember the old green Police car the park district had to deliver the agenda each week they met , it was fun reading and i would give my dad some insite to there ideas ,Thanks Dad and I miss ya
Tom Smalley June 21, 2012 at 09:07 PM
Oh one other thing I always told Dad the EPD should do is to rebuild the rock formation in the north west corner of wilder park , I imagine the Wilder's had it built 100+ years ago as a place to keep cool , not the central air of today or the cars air of today . Not sure what plans they have or if they did something with it allready , Enjoy Elmhurst ,I did when I was there ,tom
Doremus Jessup June 21, 2012 at 09:12 PM
This is what Elmhurst loses in taxes because of this acquisition. 375 W FIRST AVE Elmhurst, Illinois 60126 Year Built: 1953 MLS#: 07944850 County: Du Page Taxes: $28,667 That seems like a lot to me.
Stewart Levine June 22, 2012 at 09:58 AM
im sure they will figure out how to tax air soon and they will be able to make up for it
Stewart Levine June 22, 2012 at 10:00 AM
i honestly think the conservatory and greenhouse idea are great, i think it should be kept in style with the wilder mansion, and should be expanded so children can learn the importance of horticultural skills.

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