District 131 to consider Copley site purchase

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During a March 4 meeting the East Aurora School District 131 Buildings and Grounds Committee discussed and will recommend to the full Board of Education the purchase and renovation of approximately 38,000-square-feet of space on the former Copley Hospital site in Aurora for use as a new District administration and teacher professional development center. It is expected that the Board will consider and vote on this recommendation at its March 18 Board meeting.

Currently, administrative offices are scattered across the District, which hampers collaboration and creating inefficiencies. The Board has been exploring options for a centrally-located District office for the last four years. Most recently, the Board considered repurposing space at the Child Service Center on Reckinger Road in Aurora, but moved away from this option after further review of the impact on current student programming and following community concerns of increased traffic.

If the Board votes to move forward with this new plan, the District will work with the current property owner, Fox Valley Developers LLC, to renovate and expand the three-story building, formally used as the nursing school, to house all District administrative offices. The building will feature innovative collaboration areas for all District staff personnel to participate in professional development opportunities, as well as increased space to accommodate community attendance at Board meetings and additional green space for use by students from Bardwell Elementary School, which is directly across nearby Seminary Avenue.

The total cost of renovations and construction is projected at approximately $10 Million. The current owner has offered a $2 Million credit, resulting in an $8 Million net cost to the District. When the Board was considering repurposing space at the Child Service Center, it created a budget of $6.2 Million for renovations, which would be applied toward this Copley project. The District is in negotiations with the city government of Aurora to secure additional financial incentives to revitalize the site which has been vacant and blighted for several decades.

The District would enter into an initial five-year lease with the developer for approximately $533,000 annually, to include no-cost maintenance of all common areas and use of a park that will be built next to the building, as well as onsite private security.

“The former Copley Hospital site has long been an eyesore in our community. This option is a win-win for our District, the city of Aurora and the community,” said Annette Johnson, East Aurora District 131 Board of Education president. “A new administrative office has long been a need of our District. This site is centrally located and provides easy access to one of our biggest schools.”

Pending Board approval, it is anticipated that renovations at the site would begin in the Summer, with the District taking possession at start of the 2020 school year.
—East Aurora School District 131

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