'It would be very strange': Mount Prospect mayor raises issues with train station redevelopment
The loss of commuter parking, the impact on community events and the possibility of further splitting downtown into north and south zones are among the concerns Mount Prospect Mayor Paul Hoefert is raising about the potential sale of the village's train station property for redevelopment.
Mount Prospect's station is one of dozens in the suburbs Union Pacific plans to unload. According to Metra, which has been updating the village on the progress of negotiations, UP has entered into an agreement with a developer to sell up to 41 stations for $50.9 million.
The area in Mount Prospect, which is valued by UP at $4.9 million, includes the parking lots along Northwest Highway from southeast of Maple Street to northwest of Route 83.
Village Manager Michael Cassady confirmed that UP has gone to contract with a development group.
"They are desirous of developing a project on our east-west commuter lots and where the current train station is," he said. Cassady said the village has met with the group one or two times, the last time more than a month ago.
Parking is a big concern for village officials.
"We don't want to see those parking lots developed, necessarily," Hoefert said. "If you take it away, where are the commuters going to park, other than a parking garage?"
Building a new parking garage to replace the lost spaces would cost the village millions of dollars.
"We use those parcels under our lease for many, many community events and ongoing community activities," including car shows and farmers markets, Hoefert said.
He also questioned the property's suitability for redevelopment, saying its narrow shape would create "the oddest building you would ever want to see."
Hoefert said Mount Prospect also made an offer on the property, but based on what he called the "unrealistic bid that the developer gave," the village's offer "doesn't come anywhere near that."
"It's not worth anything for development," he said. "I don't think that property can get developed, and if it does, it would be very strange. And its current use is probably the highest and best and that's as a parking lot."