Libertyville board backs plan for housing near Metra station
Eleven years after first agreeing to allow residential development on a former industrial site near the downtown Metra station, Libertyville officials appear comfortable with a plan to do so.
Final details still need approval, but the village board is united behind a concept plan by Lake Forest architect Rick Swanson for 56 apartments, 34 townhouses and four single-family homes on the former Trimm property. That is far fewer homes than the 130 the village authorized in 2006.
Village leaders voted unanimously Tuesday to rezone a portion of the property and approve the concept plan for the proposed Station Square development.
Trustees credited Swanson for working with the community over the past several months and were comfortable his plan would result in a high-quality neighborhood.
"We've come to probably the nicest development you could have on this property," Mayor Terry Weppler said.
Community Development Director John Spoden said the board's preliminary approval was a "major bump" in a process that is about half complete. The approval allows Swanson to work on final designs for the buildings, engineering, traffic control, soil remediation and other aspects.
"There's still a lot of work to go into this," said Trustee Rich Moras.
The project also involves a land swap with the village to reconfigure and add commuter parking.
Swanson also is the developer -- but not the builder -- of the Parkside at Libertyville townhouse community under construction nearby on Winchester Road. He said he would be building Station Square and planned to use higher quality materials.
"We're trying to create an urban environment but we're really not in an urban community," Swanson said. "I chose Arts and Crafts style because it has a more casual, country feel."
Village leaders have considered the area near the Metra station west of Milwaukee Avenue desirable for public purposes since 2003, when the Newton Instrument Company closed its Trimm Inc. manufacturing plant and moved out of town.
The village offered $2.4 million to buy the 7 acres but was rebuffed after lowering the offer to $2 million because of soil contamination. A lawsuit and countersuit ensued.
A settlement in late 2006 gave Newton the right to develop as many as 130 condos or townhouses on the site. But nothing happened for several years and separate plans by two different developers fizzled in part because of the contamination.
Swanson said that he commissioned environmental studies beyond what already had been done and has a plan to address the contamination.