Train station revamp moving ahead in Libertyville

A facelift for Libertyville's downtown Metra commuter station is moving off the wish list with the hiring of an architect to develop various concepts.

RM Swanson Associations of Lake Forest has been selected to design improvements to the existing station to create a new-looking structure that "embraces the culture and character" of the community.

"It's a nice historic-looking design that fits in with the rest of downtown," said John Spoden, community development director.

A design reminiscent of the original station on the east side of Milwaukee Avenue, which was torn down in the 1970s, also will be a statement for architect Rick Swanson. Swanson is proposing a master plan for townhouses and luxury apartments on the adjoining Trimm property.

"I've got a vested interest in making sure it looks really, really nice," he said of the station design.

The existing station is a single-story, boxlike style without restrooms. Besides a complete alteration of the facade, design work calls for interior and exterior improvements, including restrooms, an improved waiting area and covered platform attached to the station.

Upgrading the station has been a long-standing goal of the village that has become more urgent with the increasing popularity of the downtown. It also is a focal point of an ongoing study, in cooperation with the Regional Transportation Authority, of the area surrounding the station for potential transit-oriented development.

"It's badly in need of renovation - it's falling down," Mayor Terry Weppler said. "A lot of people judge the community by the train station. We just have a basic station."

The contract is for a not-to-exceed amount of $49,500 and requires Swanson to review building code requirements, attend review and approval meetings and to prepare architectural drawings, a construction budget and bid documents.

Neither a schedule nor budget has been set. Metra has no money available for new stations, but told the village it can participate in a renovation, Weppler said. The station will be designed with restrooms but the extent of the overall work is to be determined.

"Yes, it will be designed with that, but we have to see what the cost will be," Weppler said. The village has about $1 million available in its commuter parking fund, he added.

"The train station is a front door of sorts to the community," said Heather Rowe, economic development coordinator. "Having it in a state that is characteristic of the village is important."

Meanwhile, a task force of residents, business interests, village officials and others have presented ideas for development or redevelopment opportunities in three downtown areas: Trimm property east to Milwaukee Avenue and south to Lake Street; the area north of the tracks to Johnson Avenue; and, the east side of Milwaukee from the Liberty Theater north.


  Upgrades to the Libertyville Metra station are on tap for this year. Mick Zawislak/
  Changes could be coming for the Libertyville Metra Station. Steve Lundy/, 2015
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