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posted: 4/16/2012 5:29 PM

Proposed transit-oriented development plan in downtown Libertyville would bring a range of different uses

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An ambitious plan to create a new neighborhood of homes, apartments, offices, restaurants and more as a northern gateway to downtown Libertyville is being pitched to village officials.

Liberty Station would be a 16-acre "transit oriented development" that would also include two multistory parking decks, a grocery store, a "pocket neighborhood" of single family homes, row houses, public plazas, a pavilion and other features. The wide-ranging plan would be designed to capitalize on the downtown commuter station between Milwaukee Avenue and Lakeside Cemetery.

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Nearly 500 new residents would be drawn to a mix of linked uses designed to honor the history of the area while blending in as an extension of the downtown, developers say.

Streetscape Development, the group that has received national attention for the "front porch revival" architecture of its ongoing SchoolStreet neighborhood just south and east, created the concept over the past year.

Point man John McLinden is scheduled to present the development idea at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at village hall, 118 W. Cook Ave. The village board, joined by the village's appearance review, economic development and plan commissions, will hear the pitch during an informal work session.

McLinden and his team want feedback from local officials on the elements of the plan and how it fits in the bigger picture before starting the official application process for the western portion, known as the Trimm property.

"It's very interesting," Mayor Terry Weppler said. "I think he's got a nice vision for the area. Obviously there are some hurdles," such as traffic and parking, he added.

McLinden declined to comment publicly before the presentation. Information provided to the village says such transit-oriented developments are in great demand "due to a cultural shift in America about how and where people want to live."

Developers also note the apartments built early in what is regarded as a five- to seven-year plan are the primary reason the project is economically feasible.

On the west side of the area, Streetscape has a contract to purchase the 7-acre Trimm property, a former industrial area that for years has been considered by the village for redevelopment. To settle a legal dispute, the village approved an agreement with the owner to develop as many as 130 condos or townhouses in exchange for property to expand parking at the Metra station.

Streetscape envisions developing four apartment buildings on that property.

The area east to Milwaukee Avenue is owned by the village, Metra and several private owners and includes existing businesses and other uses. All or part would need to be acquired by Streetscape.

The Trimm property is the genesis of the proposal, but Streetscape was directed to produce a plan for the entire area to see how it meshed with the village's vision.

"In this case, we're not saying, `Come in and do this.' But you should plan it out. You have to show us how it relates to the neighborhood," John Spoden, the village's community development director. "Our thought is this whole area is primed for redevelopment."

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