NIU to appraise, sell President’s House, Art Annex, surplus real estate


The president’s house sits at 901 Woodlawn Drive and will be appraised and sold at market value.

By Dan Doren, News Reporter

The President’s House, the Art Annex and 11 acres of land are for sale by the university, according to the Sept. 12 Board of Trustees agenda.

The properties are located at 901 Woodlawn Drive in DeKalb, behind 2211 Sycamore Road in DeKalb and near the wastewater treatment plant in Sycamore, respectively.

Recent alterations to the State Property Control Act grant public universities the ability to sell surplus real estate and direct the funds toward institution property repairs. The act defines surplus as a property under absolute ownership of the state that is uninhabited and has no anticipated use by the owning agency.

“That was the thought process that we went through,” John Heckmann, associate vice president for Facilities Management and Campus Services, said. “We were thinking about, ‘All right, what properties are candidates for us that we really don’t utilize to their full effectiveness?’”

Heckmann said he estimates the university could sell the president’s house for about $250,000 and the 11 acres in Sycamore for about $150,000, although a market analysis by a real estate broker will be used to determine more precise values.

“The art annex is probably the more difficult one that I don’t have a good feel for,” he said. “That’s mostly because the condition of the building is so poor; I’m not sure what an interested party would want to bring.”

Heckmann said the art annex, which provided studio space for students from the College of Visual and Performing Arts, is in a “dilapidated condition,” with substandard roofing and a poor heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

The functions of the art annex have since been relocated to Grant South, the portion of the towers not currently used for residential purposes.

The Board began discussing potential uses for the president’s house following Lisa Freeman’s tenure as president, Heckmann said. Ultimately, it was decided that selling the unoccupied property would be better than holding onto it.

“How long do we wait for that next president, and then what do you do with the house in the meantime?” Heckmann said. “[We could] rent it out, but then it deteriorates, and you have to continue repairing it and everything.”

The university has yet to determine which repairs will be addressed after the properties are sold, Heckmann said. He said the proceeds will likely go toward general revenue building projects, which are currently supported primarily by tuition and state funding.

“I’m trying not to get ahead of myself,” Heckmann said. “I want to get the funds first and then identify projects that we can do to support that.”

Contributor Brandon Soto contributed reporting.