Developer eyes Winfield Fuel & Material site for apartments

  • An apartment developer wants to build a larger complex than one previously envisioned for the vacant Winfield Fuel & Material site immediately south of the train tracks along Winfield Road.

    An apartment developer wants to build a larger complex than one previously envisioned for the vacant Winfield Fuel & Material site immediately south of the train tracks along Winfield Road. Daily Herald File photo

 
 
Updated 11/28/2018 8:29 AM

Another redevelopment plan has emerged for the site of the former Winfield Fuel & Material Co., a family-run mainstay that closed five years ago after more than a century in business.

Gateway Development Partners wants to build a larger apartment complex than one previously envisioned for the vacant property immediately south of the train tracks along Winfield Road.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The nearly 6-acre parcel presents several major challenges for any redevelopment, but village officials see the potential for a residential project to support efforts by Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital to create a new medical and commercial district in the village's Town Center.

Earlier this year, officials said a developer had expressed interest in constructing three-story apartment buildings similar to row houses. The complex would have contained about 90 one- and two-bedroom units.

But that developer encountered delays stemming from right-of-way issues with Union Pacific Railroad. In a newsletter to residents, officials said the developer has negotiated the sale of its purchase option rights to a second developer.

"The previous developer had some rather challenging discussions with Union Pacific," Village President Erik Spande said. "The previous owner, the Winfield Fuel & Materials, built structures on railroad right of way. When the business was no longer there, they had to take them down and they had to worry about transferring those back and environmental studies, and it was just very complicated. As far as I know, they finally got those issues resolved ... (but) that held that development up for a year."

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Officials have not yet seen a concept plan from Gateway Development Partners. Spande said he's been told the apartment complex would have "substantially more than 90 units."

The property had stayed in Tom Saylor's family since a general store opened in 1895 and evolved into the landscape and building material retailer that shuttered in 2013.

"Mr. Saylor, I think, also owned a couple of homes that are on Beecher (Avenue), and so the facility would have an access point on Winfield Road and also on Beecher," Spande said. "When you've got that many people, you can't have one entrance immediately south of the railroad. That just doesn't work. So that is the general plan."

Spande said he would expect a "vigorous, energetic discussion" about density and traffic around nearby elementary and middle schools off Beecher.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"That's one of their main entry points, and they're going to want to make sure we are very thoughtful and consider their needs," Spande said.

West Chicago Elementary District 34 Superintendent Matt Rich said school officials would work closely with the village to address traffic flow during arrival and dismissal times at the two campuses, which serve more than 400 students. That includes students in some classrooms rented out to West Chicago Elementary District 33 and the School Association for Special Education.

Rich said school officials are excited for the possibility of development at the Fuel & Material site and the broader Town Center -- areas that lie in a tax increment financing district, where property taxes above a certain point are funneled into development rather than to local governments and which is set to expire in about nine years.

"We're excited to welcome any students to our community," he said.

Should it be built, new apartments could also be geared toward CDH employees who work at the main campus farther north on Winfield Road.

The hospital also has been in talks with the village about a massive, multiyear redevelopment that would bring new medical offices and retail buildings to the south of the CDH campus.

"Having more people in our Town Center is a plus," Spande said. "You want the foot traffic. You want more potential customers. You want to be able to maximize our Metra station."

Spande said officials anticipate Gateway giving a concept presentation at a December or January 2019 board meeting.

"What I've been told is they are anxious to come forward," he said.

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