River Forest village trustees unanimously approved a four-month lease to Lutheran Child and Family Services (LCFS) at a regular board meeting on March 12. 

The village approved a $25,000 lease to the nonprofit child welfare agency for 7620 Madison Street, so they could have more time to finalize the lease for their new facility, which will not be located in River Forest, Sara LoCoco, director of marketing and communications, said in an email.

“Our decision to extend the lease here in River Forest isn’t in any way connected to agency funding,” LoCoco said. “It is solely based on needing additional time to finalize arrangements and contracts for our new office space.” 

LCFS’ new lease starts March 15, ends July 15, and money the village earns from leasing the space will be deposited in the Madison Street Tax Increment Financing (TIF) district. The village bought the building and surrounding area for $1 million in November 2017 from LCFS, loaning the money from its general fund to the Madison Street TIF to complete the purchase. Madison Street’s TIF was started in November 2016, and stretches from Thatcher Avenue to Lathrop Avenue. Tax funds generated from the TIF district will eventually be used to pay back the loan from the general fund. 

LCFS put the building up for sale in August, asking buyers to “name their offer,” LoCoco told Wednesday Journal at the time. After months of underfunding by legislators during the state’s two-year-long budget impasse, the nonprofit had been unloading a number of buildings and consolidating its programs—closing nine programs across Illinois and selling at least four buildings. LoCoCo said LCFS hopes to be out of River Forest by mid- June. 

“For us, it’s not conducive to the staff size we have any more,” LoCoco then said of 7620 Madison Street, adding that maintenance to the old building was more trouble than it was worth.  

River Forest trustees saw the building on the market and jumped on the opportunity to buy the space, with some community members saying they felt blindsided by the purchase. Village administrator Eric Palm said village trustees did not consult community members before finalizing the purchase. 

“There’s, in my mind, a difference between acquiring a property, which we did, and looking at an event that would go in its place,” Palm said.

In thinking about new ideas for development, Palm said the village will look to the village’s comprehensive plan—which should be ready around late summer. He encouraged community members to contribute ideas through the village’s website, vrf.us. He said the village has not yet talked with any developers about the property. 

But, “it’s in pretty bad shape in terms of the maintenance, so it’s probably not in the move in kind of category,” Village President Cathy Adduci said. 

The LCFS building stretches 17,000 square feet. That portion of Madison Street is zoned for commercial use. Adduci previously told Wednesday Journal she thought townhomes could be a good fit for the space. 

CONTACT: ntepper@wjinc.com

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