3507 Arden Ave.Photo courtesy Weichert Realtors-Nickel Group

Taking advantage of a strengthening real estate market, the Brookfield Public Library has decided that it’s time to try and sell the home it purchased in 2007. Last week the three bedroom home at 3507 Arden Ave. in the Hollywood section of Brookfield was listed for sale with an asking price of $329,900.

In 2007 the library paid $400,000 for the home when it was purchased as part of an ultimately unsuccessful plan to buy five homes near Arden and Washington, tear them down and build a new library. That plan fell through when one of the homeowners refused to sell.

“There’s been an improvement in the housing market right now,” said Dianne Duner, the president of the Brookfield Library Board of Trustees. “And, of course, just like everyone else there will probably be a loss because of the nature of the housing bubble.”

The library board had been reluctant to selling the home at a loss in the past, preferring to rent it out and wait for the real estate market to rebound. Now with an improving real estate market and the facing the imminent departure of the current tenant, the library board has decided now is the time to try and sell the house. The library has rented out the house to three separate tenants since 2007.

“We had an excellent tenant,” Duner said. “He was employed at the National Guard Armory, and because of the [federal budget] sequester his position was cut.”

The home is listed with Donna Karpavicius of Weichert Realtors-Nickel Group, an Oak Park-based real estate agency.

The library does not have a mortgage on the home. Proceeds from a sale would probably go toward a fund toward building a new library, according to Duner.

Board divided on new library

The library has received preliminary approval from the village for plans to build a new library across Lincoln Avenue, where the former Brookfield United Methodist Church now sits. Last year the library paid $589,185 to buy the church. This summer the church building will be demolished.

The board is still considering modifications to its current proposal to build a new library and has not decided when it wants to seek a referendum that would probably be necessary to build it.

At last week’s building and grounds committee, some library board members, most vocally Frank Torres and Linda Stevanovich, expressed misgivings about the size and cost of the current proposal to build a 38,500-square-foot library.

“I think 38,000 square feet is too big,” Stevanovich said at the meeting. “I don’t think our community needs that.”

Stevanovich suggested cutting the size of a proposed new library to about 28,000 square feet, which is slightly more than double the size of the current library.

But board member Jennifer Perry disagreed with Stevanovich’s suggestion.

“To go under 30,000 square feet would be mistake,” Perry said. “Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish.”

Perry emphasized the need to build a new library equipped to meet the needs of the future.

Library board member Judith Sweet seemed to agree with Perry.

“We owe it to the community to be the best we can be,” Sweet said.

Duner said that the current library is just too small.

“The issue is space and it always has been,” Duner said. “It’s not a situation where cost is no object. We want the best we can do.”

The library’s architects have estimated that it would cost almost $12 million to build a new library as currently proposed. That estimate is based on receiving bids in the spring of 2014. The soonest the library could seek to pass a referendum is the March 2014 primary election, but library board members seem to be in no hurry to try and pass a referendum.

The library board looks poised to seek some changes to the current proposal to cut costs and respond to concerns expressed by the village. One possibility suggested was to leave some rooms in a new library unfinished.

“I think our big problem will be selling it to the community,” said library board member Carol Kissane. “It’s going to be a hard sell to the community in this economy.”

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