Demolition of a seemingly immovable object that has vexed Libertyville village leaders for more than two years began Monday.
All concerned agree a new $10 million specialty grocery store on the former Frank's Nursery & Crafts site at 1600 South Milwaukee Ave. would have been the preferable outcome.
But after construction stopped in midstream with no apparent hope of completion, the village's goal has been to have the partially completed building removed.
"It's bittersweet," said John Spoden, the village's director of community development. "It's unfortunate it had to happen but it did."
Crews from American Demolition Corp., began to clear the site and dismantle the steel structure in a process expected to take about a week.
Completing what had been started wasn't an option.
"They'd have to do a whole investigation from a structural standpoint, but that wasn't part of the equation right now," Spoden said.
A building permit was issued in March 2007 for a Fresh Foods store, with a range of gourmet and natural foods, cooking classes and other amenities modeled after the Central Market Chain in Texas.
Construction stopped and the village in July 2008 filed suit against 1600 South LLC seeking demolition of what it regarded as a public nuisance.
A potential new ownership group surfaced in January 2009 but when that deal did not materialize, the village last fall secured a court order to have the structure torn down.
That group, DJB Venture LLC, remains interested but does not own the property. It is likely to remain empty pending final resolution of remaining legal and financial issues.
Despite the economy, the site is regarded by the village as desirable because of its visibility and location at an intersection with a stop light.
"We certainly still are fielding inquiries about the property," said Heather Rowe, the village's economic development coordinator. "It always helps as far as redevelopment for somebody to see the potential to have a clear piece of property."
The structure will be cleared but the foundation is being left in place, which would make for a quick start if the DJB can swing a deal.