Libertyville officials prepare for preliminary vote on 80-townhouse development

  • A $30 million townhouse/commercial project called Liberty Junction is proceeding through village review on a key property at routes 21 and 137 in Libertyville. The site, once home to a 1950s-era hotel, has been vacant since 2010.

    A $30 million townhouse/commercial project called Liberty Junction is proceeding through village review on a key property at routes 21 and 137 in Libertyville. The site, once home to a 1950s-era hotel, has been vacant since 2010. Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Rendering of a townhouse planned as part of the proposed $30 million Liberty Junction development south and west of routes 137 and 21 in Libertyville.

    Rendering of a townhouse planned as part of the proposed $30 million Liberty Junction development south and west of routes 137 and 21 in Libertyville. Courtesy of CHILM Libertyville Residential LLC

 
 
Updated 12/9/2021 8:26 AM

After years of inactivity, plans are moving ahead for an irregularly shaped but prominent area near Libertyville's northern border.

The 15 acres south and west of the heavily traveled intersection of Peterson Road and Milwaukee Avenue is the former site of the 1950s-era Hitch-Inn Post hotel. The hotel closed in 2005 and was demolished in 2010.

 

Plenty of inquiries surfaced since, but only a proposal for 80 townhouses, improved and expanded parking for the Wild berry restaurant, and creation of a development-ready commercial spot has progressed beyond the tire-kicking stage.

Talks with developers for a plan called Liberty Junction began in August 2020. There since have been revisions, but the main element remains a $30 million townhouse development for vacant property south and west of Wild berry and south of Ace Hardware.

Although the area has been considered a prime spot for redevelopment by the village, it has remained vacant and idle because the Young Family Trust wanted to sell it is a whole rather than in pieces, Libertyville officials were told.

The current proposal involves two applicants seeking different uses under a single site plan.

As proposed, the owner of Wild berry would add 87 parking spaces south of the restaurant and create a development-ready commercial lot on 2.4 acres south of that along Milwaukee Avenue.

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Developer CHILM Libertyville Residential LLC is seeking to rezone its portion, about 11 acres, from commercial to residential to build townhouses. The commercial and residential areas would be separated by a new public road from Adler Drive to Peterson Road to be built at CHILM's expense.

Village officials agree the site needs to be developed, but some trustees questioned aspects of the plan, including the uniform look of the townhouses and if or how the development can blend with the neighborhood to the south.

There are several steps left in the process before any final approvals would be given and construction can begin, said Mayor Donna Johnson.

"We're at the preliminary stage. The concepts are good and that's what we're trying to vet at this point," she said during a discussion Nov 23. "But there's still more in progress for us to evaluate."

On Tuesday, the village board will vote on preliminary approvals for the rezoning, special use permit, concept plan and the plat of subdivision.

Getting to that point has been a long haul and included eight hours of public hearings before the village's advisory plan commission, which unanimously recommended approval of the four measures with conditions.

Before getting the thumbs-up, CHILM reduced the number of townhouse units from 90 to 80, added open space, reduced the number of detention areas from four to two, and reconfigured units on the west, among other changes.

Neighbors to the south have followed the proposal every step of the way and remain concerned about commercial and other traffic, as well as the density and height of the townhouses and potential impact of more children on local schools.

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