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Glen Ellyn to lease endangered McKee House

Forest Preserve District approves agreement with village

The village of Glen Ellyn will lease the 81-year-old McKee House from the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County.
The village of Glen Ellyn will lease the 81-year-old McKee House from the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County.

GLEN ELLYN – After years of uncertainty, the future of the McKee House is looking bright.

The village of Glen Ellyn will be moving ahead with an effort to preserve the 81-year-old house after the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County Board of Commissioners on May 16 unanimously voted to lease the historic building to the village.

Glen Ellyn village officials previously had approved the 50-year lease agreement with the Forest Preserve District, which owns the limestone building.

"I think this is a great opportunity," said district commissioner Tim Whelan, who has been trying to build support – and funds – for preserving the McKee House together with the McKee Preservation Group.

Acting Executive Director Ed Stevenson also has high hopes for the agreement and efforts to preserve the McKee House, which was built in 1936 for the district.

"We are hopeful that with this lease with Glen Ellyn, there is a renewed opportunity that there can be a renovation and good public use for that structure," he said.

The McKee House is located on the Glen Ellyn-Lombard border in Churchill Woods, and it has been vacant since 2002. District staff members had 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.

As part of the lease agreement, Glen Ellyn will start leasing the home on April 1, 2019, for a 50-year term. The village also will begin leasing the maintenance building property at Churchill Woods when the district vacates the property.

Village Manager Mark Franz previously told Glen Ellyn trustees the maintenance property – which consists of two attached buildings – could be used to meet the village's salt and general storage needs.

The village will pay the district $1 per year for leasing the buildings. It will be responsible for all restoration, maintenance repairs and improvements to the buildings. The agreement will allow the village to sublease the buildings to the Glen Ellyn Park District, College of DuPage and Glen Ellyn Historical Society.

The agreement states if the village or a third party is not able to raise $400,000 by Oct. 1, 2019, and restore and get an occupancy permit by Oct. 1, 2022, Glen Ellyn will demolish the property at its own expense.

The village and Forest Preserve District will contribute $25,000 each to help in the restoration efforts if sufficient funds are raised, the agreement states.

The cost to raze the McKee House is estimated to be between $30,000 and $50,000. The cost to stabilize the house is estimated to be $230,000, and renovating the structure is estimated to cost anywhere from $1.3 million to $2 million.

The property is located within the village limits of Lombard. Glen Ellyn plans to annex the property by April 1, 2019.

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