'I don't think most people know it's there': Uncovering hidden creek key element of Antioch's gateway park plan

After years of planning, design and coordination among various agencies, bids are being sought to transform an eyesore property in downtown Antioch into a centerpiece community park and festival space.

Getting to this point is considered a milestone in what is expected to be a $10 million to $11 million project on 3.5 acres bounded by Main, Depot and Orchard streets.

Village officials say the landmark project will provide a true gathering and entertainment space and be a boost for tourism and economic development.

Uncovering Sequoit Creek, which was directed into a culvert and buried through the site 50 years ago, will be the emphasis of the to-be-named park.

Planned work calls for the channel to be revealed and enhanced and a pedestrian bridge built.

"This creek has been buried in the culvert for so long, I don't think most people know it's there," said Mayor Scott Gartner, who emphasized downtown revitalization in his 2021 campaign. "The creek is such an asset to downtown."

Stone walls, walkways, a pavilion, splash pad, inclusive playground, restroom/concession facility, sanitary and storm sewers, electrical and lighting improvements and other features also are included. Construction is expected to late June or early July.

Rather than wait to announce a winning bid, village officials wanted to alert a curious public where things stood and that actual work is expected to proceed.

"I know people have questions and we want to get as much information as we can out," said Jim Moran, communication manager. The village also wants to ensure "anybody and everybody who could possibly bid on this comes in," he added.

Interested parties can download bidding documents for $75 at or by inputting project number 8464525 on the project search page. Bids are due by 2 p.m. May 17 and will be opened that afternoon.

"This redevelopment project is a significant investment in the heart of our village," Gartner said. "We look forward to reviewing the bids and seeing this project come to fruition."

The northeast corner was home to several businesses through the years, including a car dealership. Over time, the businesses closed and the buildings were removed.

Sinkholes emerged when the culvert began to fail in 2016. By 2019, it had failed completely, creating potential flooding concerns downtown and upstream. In late 2020, the village bought the seven parcels that comprised what is known as the Pittman property for $510,000.

Lakota Group was hired as a consultant in early January 2022. The ensuing tie has focused on getting public feedback and developing a final plan and design for the property. Environmental and stormwater management processes also had to be worked through.

Environmental cleanup and remediation was completed last summer and the site is construction ready.

"The property itself has been an eyesore downtown for 20 years," Gartner said. "I really had an interest in making sure this project got done sooner rather than later."

The project is expected to cost $10 million to $11 million, Gartner said. About half will come from grants, including $5 million from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.

The rest will be village capital funds or proceeds from $21 million the village borrowed last summer by issuing bonds.

That money will fund four major village projects, including retrofitting the former Centegra Medical Arts building nearby at 935 Skidmore Drive as a new village hall.

The existing village hall is a hodgepodge of buildings diagonally across the street from the planned park. It would be demolished and the property offered for development, according to Gartner.

"We've been in constant discussion with our architects. You'll probably see the village hall done in the next year or so," he said.

'It's a milestone': Site remediation a key step in development of gateway park in Antioch

A pavilion is among the features of a planned park in downtown Antioch. The village is seeking bids; construction on the estimated $10 million to $11 million project is anticipated to begin in summer. Courtesy of village of Antioch
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