West Chicago seeks new city hall, downtown development

West Chicago officials simultaneously are working toward building a new city hall and addressing downtown development.

Working with Oak Brook-based FGM Architects for nearly a year with a report delivered to the city in December, the new complex is proposed for 119 Washington St., across from West Chicago Public Library.

Moving from 475 Main St., a former Jewel Grocery Store that has held West Chicago’s City Hall since 1974, city officials say would provide a larger, updated space for municipal and public events and include adjacent commercial and residential developments.

It also would clear the way for development across from the West Chicago Metra Station, under the city’s 2017 Central-Main Street Redevelopment Plan.

“The land is more valuable for that purpose,” said West Chicago City Administrator Michael Guttman.

Projected at up to $14.6 million for a new city hall building, financing would be handled by bond issue, to be repaid by increased property taxes, Guttman said.

The area proposed for the new city hall is included within a redevelopment project area and a TIF district created in March 2022. In a TIF district, property taxes to local governments are frozen for up to 23 years. Any incremental property tax collected within the area after the district is established goes into a TIF fund to help pay for certain improvements.

No TIF dollars are proposed for the city hall project, Guttman said.

The new municipal building would be about 20,700 square feet, some 8,000 square feet larger than the current one. The FGM plan includes a city council room with a dais for 17 people and seating for 80 people, and spaces for the city’s departments and employees.

The plan also looked into a two-story building that would increase the square footage to about 21,800 square feet, but reduce the building footprint to 12,800 square feet.

Costs in 2023 dollars range from $12.1 million to $14.6 million, depending on the building being one or more stories, not including costs for surrounding public spaces.

The city already owns the land, Guttman said, and has done site remediation on part of it. A junk yard and a gas station used to be on the property, he said.

A preliminary sketch shows an outdoor plaza with a walkway leading to the city hall building on the north end of the property, near McConnell Avenue.

The drawing shows three plots for commercial development, two of them fronting Washington Street, and a potential four-story apartment building. Two parking lots would serve city hall and the commercial buildings.

Next steps include professional drafts to provide a better idea of the costs involved, Guttman said, calculating cost estimates, and discussing funding with the city’s finance committee.

“What is lacking in our downtown is density. That is what we need to spark quality commercial development,” Guttman said.

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