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.
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