SAVOY - The old Savoy School building could be converted into a functional village hall for slightly over $1 million, according to a village consultant.
But the facility, also known as the Jones Community Center, would probably be better used as a community center instead of a village hall, said architect Riley Glerum of Isaksen-Glerum PC of Urbana.
The board contracted with Isaksen-Glerum several months ago to study the old school building, now owned by the village, to determine whether it could be converted into a village hall. The current village hall at 114 W. Church St. is an old converted church and is too small for the village's needs at just 4,200 square feet.
The old school, at 310 W. Church St., is being leased by the Champaign County Head Start program for preschool youths. Head Start has a two-year lease, but the village or Head Start can break the lease with 90 days notice.
Glerum said the old school, which has 14,300 square feet of space, could be converted into a permanent village hall at an estimated cost of $1,034,000. But he questioned whether that would be the best use of the facility.
"I think it has better potential to be a community center, with less remodeling," Glerum said.
Glerum also said he thought locating a village hall at the old school was "not consistent, in our team's view, with the village's comprehensive plan."
Village board members seemed to agree with that assessment.
"I'm looking at that as a community center, rather than a village hall," agreed Trustee Ted Davis.
Glerum said the old school could be converted into a temporary village hall - if, for example, the current village hall were demolished and a new facility built there - for $156,000.
Building an entirely new village hall would cost an estimated $1.44 million, and that figure does not include the cost of purchasing land, Glerum said.
Also Wednesday, the village board made it clear that it wants a 5-acre site in the Prairie Fields subdivision, set aside for use as a future school site, to remain vacant.
Village Manager Dick Helton said a representative of Randy Peifer, developer of Prairie Fields, showed up at a recent Savoy Planning Commission meeting with plans to put duplex apartment units on part of the 5 acres. Helton said the planning commission was told the Champaign school district isn't interested in the site for future use as a school.
But Helton said village inquiries showed just the opposite.
"School officials told us they are interested," Helton said. "They are interested in doing a school there and they want to maintain that site, but they can't give any guarantees about when (construction) will be."