BELLEVILLE, Ill. – The city of Belleville has agreed to spend $3 million to buy a property it once sold for only a dollar about 18 years ago. The deal could mean new life for the Lindenwood University campus, which is the former Belleville-West High School.
The Lindenwood-Belleville campus that once had more than 1,200 undergraduate students, even college sports teams and a dorm, has quickly taken on the feel of a ghost town.
There was nobody in sight at the campus Tuesday.
Lindenwood University pulled its full-time undergrad programs from Belleville in 2019 and had only a few dozen students taking classes last semester.
“It was a tough blow,” said Belleville Mayor Patty Gregory. “I know that some people think, ‘Well, you sold it to them for a dollar years ago…and now you’re buying it back for $3million.’ Here’s the reason why: they actually have put in $45 million in improvements and new buildings. I guess I could use the old phrase, ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day.’ I think the administration has come pretty far in (my first) 90 days (in office) to tackle one of the biggest issues that we had facing us.”
As for what’s next here, Mayor Gregory would not give specifics.
The historic buildings on campus, which date to 1915, would remain, she said.
The purchase includes 24 parcels, including the former Harmony School property, which is not part of the main campus.
“It’s going to be something that is very exciting to the City of Belleville,” she said.
Before the pandemic, Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville had an interest in the site. FOX 2 confirmed Tuesday that interest remains.
SIUE’s Vice Chancellor for Administration, Dr. Morris Taylor, has toured the campus.
“We do have interest in having classes on the Lindenwood Campus if and when the campus becomes suitable for our needs,” he said, adding that nothing was yet close to fruition.
Gregory said the plans involved “multiple entities.” She hoped to have plans firmed up by the end of the year.