Fuck me there's some big girls in here!
If you could get a second hand front wheel then the UK wheel building places would charge about 300Euro ($400ish) tops to lace a new 17" rim with new stainless spokes to the existing hub. You could always save cash by lacing it yourself, it's not that hard. You don't NEED and Excel rim, a cheaper Morad would be fine. Keep the standard front and you can always change back.
It'll either work or it won't. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
None of my projects and modified bikes would have got anywhere if I worried myself like some of you guys!