Retail, residental building proposed for Mundelein

Mundelein officials think a sprawling retail and residential building that's been proposed for vacant land near village hall and the Metra station could help revitalize the downtown area.

Put together by a company called Mega Realty, the plan calls for a 27,000-square-foot complex just east of village hall on Plaza Circle. It would be the first development in that area since village hall opened last year.

"That's why we built the village hall here," Village Administrator John Lobaito said. "We were hoping that we could attract private investment."

The building also would be just north of the Metra station's parking lot, thus giving would-be residents easy access to commuter trains.

That's been an important element of successful apartment and condominium developments throughout the suburbs, including in Mundelein.

"These folks can walk over, take the train downtown, go to work, come back and have a destination for shopping," Trustee Ray Semple said.

"Transit-oriented development" has become something of a mantra for Mundelein officials over the last decade as they've worked to pump new energy into a downtown business district that hasn't exploded like those in Libertyville, Palatine, Arlington Heights and other towns.

Semple said he believes this project can give Mundelein's downtown revitalization effort a big push.

"Absolutely," he said.

The project was publicly unveiled this week.

Mega Realty wants to build a six-story structure that would have shops on the first floor and 130 apartments on the upper levels, Lobaito said.

The company has a history of projects in Mundelein, including a shopping center at Route 45 and Diamond Lake Road and a condominium building on Diamond Lake Road. It's also erecting a 36-unit luxury apartment building overlooking Diamond Lake.

"The developer has a terrific track record in Mundelein," Semple said. "He's the real deal."

The village board on Monday approved an nonbinding agreement for the proposed development. That document is needed because the village owns the 3-acre site and intends to partner with the developer.

"We have a major stake in the success of this," Semple said.

A more formal development agreement will be needed once the project solidifies, officials said.

Additionally, village officials want to extend the life of a special taxing district in the downtown area to raise funds for public elements of the Plaza Circle development. The tax-increment financing district is set to expire in 2028.

Officials are meeting with representatives from local schools and other government agencies to gauge interest in extending the fundraising effort to 2040. State approval would be required as well.

"We expect to be working on the project throughout this year," Lobaito said. "Our hope is that in the spring we'll be ready to break ground."

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