The village of Round Lake Beach plans to buy two properties as part of an ongoing strategy to improve neighborhoods and prepare for future opportunities.
While the real estate market may still be sluggish, the village remains an active buyer, with contracts in place to buy an old home at 1319 Walnut Drive and nearly two acres of land north of Rollins Road near Nicole Lane.
The vacant home will be purchased for $14,900 and later demolished as part of a village program established about a decade ago to stabilize neighborhoods and remove blight.
Before the real estate marked took a dive, the village would buy, rehab and sell such homes. Over the past year and a half, the focus has been on acquiring homes to demolish.
The village has acquired six to eight homes in that time, said Village Administrator Dave Kilbane.
"Right now, we're just taking advantage of the suppressed market," he added.
"It's just a little house, probably not more than 900 square feet," he said of 1319 Walnut Drive. "It's probably 60 or 70 years old."
The home sits on piers and would need to be jacked up to have a foundation poured if it were to be renovated for sale. Instead, it's cheaper to tear it down.
"A lot of them are so small, you're better off splitting the lot between two neighbors," said Mayor Richard Hill. "It takes an eyesore out of the community."
The other property, which will be purchased for $80,000, is set back about 400 feet from Rollins Road, north of what will be a new State Bank of the Lakes branch. It is located in a 60-plus acre key development area, designated a few months ago when the village amended its comprehensive plan.
A portion of the piece to be acquired will be used as right of way for the eventual extension of Hook Drive west from Orchard Lane to Nicole Lane. The village owns a good amount of the needed right of way and a portion of the roadway was built by developers of the Oak Hill Supportive Living facility, Kilbane said.
"Right now, we're trying to get everything in place so when we get the funds, we'll be ready to go," Hill said.
The remainder of the Rollins Road property could someday be sold for a commercial development, according to Kilbane.
"Nobody is interested at this point. We're just laying the framework," he said.
The village also sees an opportunity to improve public access to trails and natural areas.
"We're trying to see if we can plan for the future and increase our pedestrian amenities that will be accessible and open to the public," said Jon Wildenberg, director of economic development.
The property is in a tax increment financing district but that is not producing revenue at this time. So, the village will use its line of credit with NorStates Bank for the purchase. The home also will be bought with those funds.
"We generally keep a low balance in the line of credit but it allows us to move quickly, if need be," Kilbane said.