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updated: 8/30/2012 5:29 AM

Mount Prospect seeks public input on future of downtown

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Mount Prospect residents are invited to attend a special open house on Thursday, Sept. 13, that will include a conversation about the future of the village's downtown area.

Village leaders are working with the Regional Transportation Authority and a Chicago consultant on a new development plan for the downtown, one that will examine transit opportunities in the area, the viability of remaining vacant parcels and community preferences for future development.

That last element will play a big role in the meeting on Sept. 13. After a presentation, attendees will be asked to talk about what they currently like in the downtown area and what they'd like to see there in the future.

"We're hoping we get people from across the community -- downtown business owners and residents from all over," Community Development Director Bill Cooney said. "Public input is a big part of this."

The meeting will be the first of several to be held on the future of the downtown. After the meetings are concluded, a committee consisting of residents and representatives from a number of civic and transit agencies will prepare a final report.

The Lakota Group, a Chicago-based consultant that has assisted with a number of suburban redevelopment plans, will help the village with this one.

"We're excited because Lakota has done some great work," Cooney said. "This process should be a good one for Mount Prospect."

The downtown area has changed considerably in the past 15 years, with multiple condominium buildings and a new mix of specialty shops and restaurants moving in. Much of the redevelopment was governed by an initial downtown plan completed in 1998, and an updated version completed in 2003.

But plans for redevelopment of the triangle area bounded by Main Street, Central Road and Northwest Highway bogged down as developers couldn't get financing and one of the property owners became embroiled in extensive litigation over the village's plans that still is ongoing.

Now, nearly 10 years after the 2003 update, and with new economic pressures bearing down, the village decided to take a fresh look at the area, Cooney said.

The village will use a grant of up to $100,000 from the RTA to help pay for the study.

The first open house will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, on the fourth floor of the Chase Bank Building, 111 E. Busse Ave. For more information, call village planner Nellie Beckner at (847) 818-5312.

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