Winfield sees opportunity to transform its downtown

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the location of some properties.

The closing of one of Winfield's oldest businesses could help pave the way for the village to transform its downtown.

Officials say they're already in talks with representatives from Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital about redevelopment plans for John's Tavern and other sites in Town Center.

"This is the most significant opportunity Winfield has ever seen to significantly improve Town Center for residents and businesses," Village President Erik Spande said. "If we get this right, it will transform Winfield's Town Center."

John's Tavern is scheduled to close Dec. 23 after 96 years because its downtown property is being sold to Northwestern Medicine. A neighboring 7-Eleven site and a parking lot along Winfield Road also are being acquired as part of the deal.

On Monday, Brian Lemon, president of Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital, said hospital officials are working closely with the village to redevelop the Town Center in ways that would spur economic growth for the community.

"We believe by working together, the village and Central DuPage Hospital will be able to transform the Town Center into a community destination that will meet both the needs of Winfield residents and the hospital," Lemon said in a statement. "We are looking forward to being a part of this unique community growth opportunity."

While no formal plans have been submitted, Spande said Northwestern Medicine is interested in constructing mixed-use buildings that would be up to four stories tall, with commercial uses on the first floor and medical office space above.

Spande said officials believe it's vital for the buildings to have a retail component.

"We want Town Center to be more than a sterile office park," he said. "And we certainly don't want to remove existing businesses and then basically have medical storefronts. We want to give people a reason to come to Town Center."

It's not yet clear how many properties will be redeveloped.

But Spande said two houses east of the 7-Eleven site were purchased by CDH. Both houses along Church Street have since been torn down. Meanwhile, a business parcel at the northwest corner of Church and Jewell Road is for sale, Spande said.

The village also demolished two houses on parcels it owns along Jewell Road.

In addition to the mixed-use buildings, the hospital is planning to expand its parking by constructing a multilevel parking deck along Winfield Road, west of its main campus. The site currently is a parking lot.

Spande said village and hospital officials have been meeting every few weeks to discuss common goals of the redevelopment projects.

Once CDH submits a formal proposal, it will be publicly reviewed by the village. Spande said he would like to see that process begin by spring.

"It could be the most significant, positive change for Winfield's Town Center that we've seen in many decades," Spande said.

That change could include a redevelopment of the former Winfield Fuel & Material site immediately south of the train tracks along Winfield Road.

Spande said a developer is interested in constructing three-story apartment buildings - similar to row houses - on the roughly 5.5-acre site. The complex would contain a total of 84 one- to two-bedroom units.

If approved, the upscale apartments would give downtown Winfield more foot traffic, he said.

The village board got an early look at the idea in October. Spande said he hopes a formal proposal will be reviewed by the plan commission "in the not-to-distant future."

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