Public art displays and paths for pedestrians and bicyclists are among the things Mundelein officials could create to improve the village's south-side commercial corridor, a team of real estate experts said Monday.
But redeveloping the foundering Oak Creek Plaza shopping center -- perhaps with townhouses, retail stores or offices -- should be the village's priority, representatives from the Urban Land Institute said during a presentation to the village board.
That could be "a catalyst for the entire corridor," team member Matthew Latimer said.
A nonprofit network of real estate and land use professionals, the institute was hired in February to study the businesses and opportunities along Mundelein's portion of Townline Road, also known as Route 60. The study cost the village $20,000.
Mundelein's segment runs between the merged Route 60/83 and Butterfield Road, which is the village's eastern border with Vernon Hills.
Institute members spent two days in Mundelein in April examining the corridor. Latimer criticized it as a "disjointed grouping of various properties" that need an identity.
The mostly vacant Oak Creek Plaza, near the southeast corner of routes 45 and 60, was a focal point for the team. Officials should forget about attracting a big-box retailer like Walmart to the site and consider other options, representatives said.
Townhouses could be alluring to potential developers and residents because the property is in much-lauded Stevenson High School District 125, said Lance Ramella, who led the team.
The group looked at other shopping centers in the corridor, too, as well as the roughly 55-acre Medline campus across Townline Road from Oak Creek Plaza.
Latimer said village officials must work to keep Medline in town because if the health care manufacturer and distributor relocates, it would create a new problem for Mundelein. Medline already moved its headquarters from the Mundelein site to Northfield two years ago.
"Keep them here and keep them happy here," Latimer said.
Meanwhile, officials could improve the corridor's appearance by adding sculptures or other public art to some of the highly traveled gateway spots, team member Joseph Maschek said. He suggested incorporating Mundelein's star-shaped logo and involving local high school and college students in the projects.
Sidewalks, bike paths and small parks could lure people to the area, too, team members said.
The institute is finalizing its report. Once delivered, it will be published on the village website.