GLEN ELLYN – Glen Ellyn trustees are receptive to an effort to preserve the 81-year-old McKee House as part of a proposed lease agreement between the village and the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, which owns the limestone building.
Trustees discussed the proposal at their April 17 workshop meeting, and they could vote on the lease agreement in May.
The McKee House, which was built in 1936 for the Forest Preserve District, is located on the Glen Ellyn-Lombard border in Churchill Woods, and it has been vacant since 2002. Forest Preserve District staff members have recommended the building be razed because of the high cost to repair it.
Nonprofit group Landmarks Illinois on April 6 announced the inclusion of the McKee House on its 2017 list of the most endangered historic places in Illinois.
Glen Ellyn officials have expressed an interest in leasing the McKee House and maintenance building property at Churchill Woods.
As part of the proposed lease agreement, the village would start leasing the McKee House on April 1, 2019, for a 50-year term. The lease for the maintenance property would start when the district vacates the property.
Village Manager Mark Franz told trustees the maintenance building property – which consists of two attached buildings – could be used to meet the village's salt and general storage needs.
The village would pay the district $1 per year for leasing the buildings. As proposed, the village would be responsible for all restoration, maintenance repairs and improvements to the buildings. The agreement would allow the village to sublease the buildings to the Glen Ellyn Park District, College of DuPage and Glen Ellyn Historical Society.
According to the agreement, if fundraising efforts for the McKee House generate $400,000 by April 1, 2019, the village would agree to pay $25,000 to help in the restoration efforts. However, if the funds are not raised by that date and the house is not restored and occupied by April 1, 2022, the building would be demolished and the property restored to its natural state at the village's expense.
The Forest Preserve District also would pay $25,000 to help in the restoration efforts if sufficient funds are raised, the agreement states. The cost to raze the McKee House is estimated at between $30,000 and $50,000.
The cost to stabilize the house is estimated at $230,000, and renovating the structure is estimated to cost anywhere from $1.3 million to $2 million, Franz said.
Glen Ellyn Park District commissioner Kathy Cornell told trustees the proposed fundraising timetable is ambitious but doable. She has been a professional fundraiser for 20 years.
"It is doable, but we would want to get started right away," Cornell said.
Cornell said the building is well-suited as a place to hold summer nature camps, and it could be used as a special events venue. She noted the Park District's Lake Ellyn Boathouse is a popular venue.
"That building is reserved months and months in advance," Cornell said.
The property is located within the village limits of Lombard. The village of Glen Ellyn plans to annex the property by April 1, 2019. Lombard officials support the idea, Franz said.