O’Fallon accepting proposals for Old City Hall

O’FALLON – Are you in the market to own a piece of O’Fallon’s history? It’s a bit of a fixer-upper, but, if you’re interested, the Old City Hall building is available.

Recently the city began accepting proposals from the public for the Old City Hall building, located at 200 North Lincoln. The building, which was built in 1890, served as the center of city government until the new city hall opened in the late nineties. From then, until 2009, it housed the Fire Department’s administrative offices, however they moved out due to health concerns. Since then it has been used for storage by the O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce, O’Fallon Historical Society, and the city.

According to City Administrator Walter Denton, O’Fallon received some inquiries about its plans for the building while the city was developing the Central City TIF district last June.

“With the conclusion of the Downtown Plan and Central City TIF, we received some inquiries about what we were doing with the Old City Hall. We are currently using it for storage and have no plans to redevelop, so we thought this would be a good time to see if there is any serious interest,” said Denton.

Community Development Director Ted Shekell said that due to the amount of renovation needed at Old City Hall, the city wanted to see if anyone in the community was interested in taking on the project.

“Since 2009, the City has performed basic maintenance on the building, but the building is in need of substantial renovation, and those costs are expected to be substantial. Therefore, we wanted to provide an opportunity for a developer or organization to renovate this building in a way that both preserves its historic character and brings the building back to life with a productive use that will benefit the entire community.  The City Council will carefully review all initial proposals, and afterward will decide which, if any, merit further consideration,” said Shekell.

The city is soliciting proposals from qualified developers or community organizations willing to invest in both the purchase and improvement of Old City Hall. The city’s goal is to bring the building back to life through productive use and integrate it into the neighborhood again. All proposals must preserve the architectural character of the building.

One issue with the building is the presence of asbestos and mold.  The city is selling the building “as is” making the toxins something a buyer will have to deal with early on.  However, despite the asbestos and mold, the city is discounting any proposals that involve demolition.

“The City Council feels that the Old City Hall is a local historic structure and would like to see it used if at all possible,” Denton explained.

Shekell agreed that the historic significance of the building necessitates its preservation.

“This building is very important to the community from a historical perspective, and we believe every effort should be made to preserve it if at all possible,” he said.

The Old City Hall is approximately is comprised of about 4,500 square feet, two stories with a brick exterior. The building is located within the Central City TIF district that was created this past June.

“The building needs a lot of work, but there are TIF incentives available that may make it easier to do a project,” said Denton.

According to Shekell, the city doesn’t have any specific ideas or developments it would like to see done with the building.

“We intentionally did not list desired types of projects for Old City Hall. We want to allow maximum flexibility so that creative individuals or organizations can feel free to submit unique proposals that will make good use of the building and that will be compatible with the surrounding neighborhood,” Shekell said.

One thing the city would like to note is that it is open to proposals from not just businesses, but also community organizations, such as Rotary and Kiwanis clubs, that have a plan to renovate and use the space.

Shekell said there has been a bit of interest already in the building, even though the city has only announced it was collecting proposals this month.

“It’s very early in the process, but we have fielded a few questions so far. It’s an amazing opportunity for a creative developer to invest in Downtown O’Fallon, restore a historic building, and make a difference in the community,” he said.

All developers with an interest in the project need to register with Anne Stevenson, Assistant City Planner at astevenson@ofallon.org. Additionally, any questions should be directed to Anne Stevenson prior to Monday, February 22. Interested developers are asked to submit an electronic copy (PDF format on a flash drive or CD) and two hard copies of their proposal in a sealed envelope no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, March 7, to City Clerk Phil Goodwin.

For details about what must be included in the developer proposals and what criteria the developers must meet, read the Request for Proposals at http://www.ofallon.org/sites/ofallonil/files/file/file/oldcityhallrfp.pdf.pdf.