HCS finds new home, same landlord

HCS Family Services will be moving to larger and less disjointed environs pending Hinsdale Village Board approval of the agency’s relocation from the Memorial Building to the village-owned building at 22 E. Elm St.

At their Oct. 5 meeting, trustees held a first read discussion of a proposed 10-year lease agreement with HCS to provide rent-free use of the one-floor, 5,550-square-foot facility. The new space would double the agency’s current footprint, which is spread across three levels.

“This new lease will allow HCS to move into a much larger space and will also leave much more space here in the Memorial Building that will be available for village use and will also reduce the wear and tear created by the activity of HCS,” Trustee Matt Posthuma said in presenting the proposal.

Village staff and HCS representatives have reportedly been working on finding a more suitable location for the organization, which houses its food pantry in the nearly 100-year-old building’s basement. Demand has held steady at about 100 families a week since 2018. That’s about the time the Hinsdale Humane Society moved its pet shelter out of the Elm Street property after six decades. The building has set empty since then.

Under a 1928 agreement with HCS’ predecessor, the Hinsdale Nursing and Relief Association, the village must furnish free space for the service organization. The 10-year lease can be extended by up to three additional five-year terms. That 25-year period would presumably enable HCS to pay off the $420,000 it intends to invest in building improvements.

Among those projects is an envisioned 20-space parking lot on the north side of the building, where park land is located. Village President Tom Cauley expressed concern about encroaching into that open space..

“I wonder whether people will complain about us taking park land,” he said. “I know in the winter time, kids use that to sled.”

Assistant Village Manager Brad Bloom responded that it likely wouldn’t affect the sledding area, but he said staff would look into the feasibility of putting a lot on land across the street along the railroad tracks at Cauley’s request.

“I’d rather not encroach (on the park) at all if we can avoid it,” Cauley remarked.

The village would retain the right to relocate HCS from the building after six years, with two years advance notice, to another site that likely would be a different village property. The village would in turn be required to reimburse HCS for 150 percent of its build-out costs if the relocation happens in year six, a percentage that drops each year down to zero in year 25.

HCS Executive Director Wendy Michalski voiced her gratitude for the village’s partnership.

“Thank you for a great relationship,” she said.

Cauley endorsed the arrangement as positive for both sides.

“I think this is a good use of this building,” he said. “Overall I think this is a win-win.”

The matter will come before the board for a second read and approval at the Tuesday, Oct. 19 meeting.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean