A village park in Libertyville could be transformed into a California-casual style neighborhood as a long-envisioned sale appears to be nearing a conclusion.
RM Swanson Architects of Lake Forest has submitted a proposal for Parkside of Libertyville, an eight-building townhouse complex with 56 units to replace the 5.3-acre park and structures at 625 W. Winchester Road.
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"I just wanted to do something different," developer Rick Swanson said. "Craftsman style is a casual, comfortable style."
The triangular property, called Bolander Park, includes the village's parks department headquarters and is bordered by Winchester Road, Ellis Avenue and rail tracks about a quarter-mile from the downtown area and Metra commuter station.
Village officials agreed to sell the property about two years ago after determining the facilities were underutilized and needed significant repairs.
Pathway Senior Living LLC initially intended to buy the property but withdrew without comment.
This past November, the village board approved an agreement to sell the property to Swanson for $2.05 million.
Since then, the real estate agreement has been extended several times, most recently last Tuesday, to give Swanson more time to assess the suitability of the site and do other work.
The park is named for the former construction company that operated there. Swanson said benzene was found in some soil borings, but a more thorough environmental investigation showed it can be contained and easily removed. "We're committed to moving forward," he said.
Village Administrator Kevin Bowens said the most recent extension was to allow time for review of the environmental findings. "We're looking forward to try and get it resolved and sell the property," he said.
Swanson said the homes would not be condos. The size would range from 1,650 to 2,450 square feet with prices from the high $300,000s to the low $400,000s. He said buyers are moving away from huge homes with a lot of maintenance.
"The trend is toward downsizing while still maintaining a high-level of quality," he said. "It fits what I believe is an underserved product type."
Village review and approvals will be needed to rezone the property from institutional to residential use and for other aspects of the plan.
"He's trying to reach what he feels is a strong demand in the Libertyville market for high-quality townhouse development," said Heather Rowe, the village's economic development coordinator. "We haven't had much in the way of multifamily built in the last 10 years."
The Craftsman style has California roots, Swanson said, and is regarded as being both casual and elegant and would be an appropriate fit for Libertyville.