The former Waubonsee Community College building at 5 E. Galenea Blvd. in downtown Aurora is going back on the market after the company that planned to buy the structure said it is no longer pursuing the purchase. | File~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 24, 2014 6:17AM
AURORA — The developer slated to buy and rehab the former Waubonsee Community College campus in downtown Aurora is no longer pursuing the property, Waubonsee officials confirmed Friday.
Gorman & Co. has terminated its sales agreement to purchase the two historical buildings on Stolp Island, according to Waubonsee spokesman Jim Sibley. Gorman had been expected to close on the property in January 2014, according to records.
Now that the deal is off the table, Waubonsee will start marketing the property for sale again, Sibley said.
As of October, Waubonsee officials believed the sale was still on for $1.5 million. Sibley said Gorman backed out of the deal this month.
In May, the Waubonsee Board of Trustees announced that it had reached a $1.5 million deal with Gorman, a Wisconsin-based development firm, to purchase the two old Waubonsee buildings at 5 E. Galena Blvd. and 14-20 S. Stolp Ave.
Gorman & Co., known for revitalizing downtown areas, had planned to develop artist “live-work” lofts and possible retail space at the site.
Also in May, Tom Capp, Gorman COO, said that the developer was still a “long way from proving (the project) was viable.” Capp warned the company was “still cautious” since the project was in the beginning phases, but added: “We rarely start on a project that doesn’t come to fruition.”
Calls to Capp in October and on Friday were not returned.
Aurora Chief of Staff Carie Anne Ergo said all parties involved understood that the Gorman plan — to convert the old campus from a classroom use to a mostly residential use — would not be an easy project.
“We’re disappointed, but we’re not surprised,” Ergo said.
Ergo said the city will now go back and examine other options for the site. Because the site is classrooms now, there is potential for an educational use at the old campus in the future, she said.
Prior to the Gorman deal, in March of last year, Mayor Tom Weisner announced that the city planned to buy the two Waubonsee buildings to create a technical training center, with Waubonsee, East Aurora, West Aurora, Indian Prairie and Oswego school districts partnering on the project. About one-third of the building space was to be leased to East Aurora as district offices.
The buildings were previously on the market for almost two years.
Waubonsee operated its downtown campus from the Stolp Island buildings from August 1986 until June 2011, when the college vacated the buildings and moved to a new, larger campus across the Fox River at 18 S. River St.
According to the city’s website, the Galena Boulevard building that formerly served as Waubonsee’s extension center was built in 1928 and originally operated as the Block & Kuhl Store. In 1961 it became the Carson Pirie Scott store and underwent a major remodeling when Waubonsee took it over in 1986.
The Stolp Avenue property, formerly Waubonsee’s book store, was built around 1925 and originally operated as the Stanley Furniture store.