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home : news : business   November 25, 2015

7/3/2014 11:32:00 AM
School building turned business: Yoga, hoops, more

La Salle Mayor Jeff Grove’s purchase of the former St. Roch’s School in La Salle has opened up space for businesses and other organizations.NewsTribune photo/Scott Anderson
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La Salle Mayor Jeff Grove’s purchase of the former St. Roch’s School in La Salle has opened up space for businesses and other organizations.

NewsTribune photo/Scott Anderson
Rachel Stella
Media Editor

The former St. Roch’s School in La Salle had stood silent and unused since 2007, when Trinity Catholic Academy consolidated its students into one building.

Today it has a new name — the Grove Center — and is repurposed and open for business. Ax Church meets there on Sundays, and Hammer’s Energy Fitness holds several exercise classes there per week.

“It’s huge and busy — busy, busy, busy,” said Hammer’s owner and instructor Matt Hancock, whose classes see more than 250 people. “It’s a good central location; people can hit me from all angles.”

According to previous NewsTribune reports, La Salle Mayor Jeff Grove personally purchased the building this past October from the Catholic Diocese of Peoria with the intent to renovate and rent out the inside space.

“I kind of like the theme we have going here with health and wellness, with Ax Church and what Matt’s got going on,” Grove said.

The building has a gymnasium with a stage area and eight 26-by-38-foot classrooms. Ax Church currently rents the stage area and three of the classrooms. Hancock sets up his classes in the gym, which is available when he’s not using it.

Grove said the two tenants have one-year leases, but he’s open to other arrangements from businesses and organizations, such as month-to-month leases or one-time use. The Altar and Rosary Society from St. Joseph Catholic Church in Peru has used space for monthly meetings, and some people have rented the gym for parties, he said.

In June, La Salle Parks and Recreation staff found a home at the Grove Center for their basketball camp, which had been scheduled to be at Lincoln Junior High School. According to parks director Don Baldin, the school could not host the camp because of floor repairs, so the camp was moved to the Grover Center gym.

“It was awesome; the kids had a great time,” Baldin said. “The facilities are great.”

Hancock appreciates the location because of the gym’s large space.

“That blew my business up,” he said. “It put me on the map, it really did … This is where I want to be. He (Jeff Grove) told me I could stay here as long as I want.”

Baldin said he would consider using the Grove Center for other parks and recreation activities.

“It’s something that our community kind of needed — a little area for different activities,” he said. “Obviously, there’s a need for a community center.”

Grove said people are happy to see the former St. Roch’s School be put to use again.

“I get a lot of positive comments from people who went to school here or their kids went here — how nice it is to see cars parked outside,” he said.

Rachel Stella can be reached at (815) 220-6933 or

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