Little Friends Property Condition Assessed

Facility Condition Assessment

Nearly $16 million is what it could cost if Little Friends was to stay at its current location in Naperville’s Historic District.

That number comes from the facility condition assessment conducted by Wight & Company – the engineering firm the nonprofit hired to evaluate the cost of staying, renovating, or moving buildings on the four-acre property.

“The cost estimates were just an excess of $10 million in terms of what we would have to invest in the property, without any additional expansion,” explained President & CEO of Little Friends Mike Briggs. “If we were then to expand and use some of the available space that we’ve got and build another, for example, 20,000 square feet, that would add another $6 million to the price tag.”

Looking to Move

But Little Friends, which provides services for people with Autism, would rather find a new home.

They filed to demolish the four buildings on its campus in July, in order to sell it and move to a new facility by next year.

Ordinance Stalls Process

The process was stalled by a new amendment to the city’s historic preservation ordinance, which requires a third party analysis before any building is removed in the Historic District.

“Best case scenario would be we would be allowed to move forward and sell our property and to be able to move to new facilities,” said Briggs. “Sadly the need for what we do is growing and we’ve outgrown the facilities we have.”

Options for Kroehler

Another option the group analyzed was renovating and relocating the historic Kroehler Mansion to create a ready-for-sale mega-mansion residence.

But that would come at a cost of at least $3.9 million.

“It’s out-used its useful economic life,” added Briggs. “To renovate it is so substantially cost-prohibitive to us it’s not something that we can do. Nor in offering it to other entities – no one’s wanted to take it and move it. We’ve offered that as well and that’s not been something that, to this date anyway, no governmental entity has said that as well.”

Waiting on City

Now the organization waits for the city to complete its own assessment, which city staff says won’t be done for another few weeks.

Both assessments will then be presented to the Historic Preservation Commission, a meeting date for which has yet to be scheduled.

Naperville News 17’s Christine Lena reports.

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