Mundelein move brings home to replace former eyesore
With onlookers gravitating, utility company trucks and helmeted employees everywhere, and a police car blocking North Prairie Avenue just south of Route 176, Mundelein resident Steve Kenig knew something was up in the neighborhood.
"The next thing I see is this house rolling through. I said, 'I've got to see this,'" Kenig said Thursday as he stood near a freshly poured foundation awaiting the home's delivery.
Kenig was among dozens of neighbors and others who watched as the 40-ton single-story home was moved from Wellington Avenue a few blocks away to a cleared lot at 516 N. Prairie Ave.
The move is part of a creative partnership to replace a long-vacant blighted home on the block with an affordable place for a new family.
Utility lines were dropped and reattached, and some hanging limbs cut, but the three-bedroom house fit comfortably on its short journey along tree-lined streets.
And there was plenty of excitement.
"I like the neighbor aspect, how everyone's out here and so much buzz," said Rob Anthony, executive director of the Affordable Housing Corp. of Lake County.
Anthony helped coordinate the project, which accomplished two goals - removing a neighborhood eyesore and giving the village of Mundelein space for a stormwater management project.
"I thought it was really neat - they were repurposing the house and working with the village," said resident Abby Blair, who moved down the street from the home's new location last summer. "Obviously, it's an exciting day for the neighborhood, too."
Longtime residents of the block also were enthused.
"I'm thrilled thinking a family can get a nice house," said Toni Antonetti, who has lived next door for 20 years. "It's filling up an eyesore, making the neighborhood look better. It's a good thing."
The house that previously was on the lot was demolished two weeks ago, ridding the neighborhood of what had been a problem for years. It was one of about 50 in Mundelein and Round Lake Beach acquired by the Affordable Housing Corp over the past three years.
Most have been rehabilitated, but 516 N. Prairie Ave. presented a special case. Besides being beyond repair, the amount of outstanding liens and delinquent property taxes made it undesirable to investors.
Meanwhile, the village last May acquired the flood-prone Wellington Avenue house and planned to demolish it to make way for a stormwater management project.
A casual conversation at village hall ultimately led to the solution that played out Thursday.
"Eventually, we stopped chuckling and realized that may actually work," Anthony said. The village donated the home to the housing agency and waived the liens.
"All things considered, it's amazing," said Pete Schubkegel, the village's building director.
For now the Wellington Avenue lot will serve as a bowllike stormwater collector, but at some point it will be incorporated into a larger plan for the area, Schubkegel said.
After some paint, carpeting and a garage, the home relocated to Prairie Avenue will hit the real estate market, Anthony said.
"It's great to see this and it will be great to see the new neighbors," said 42-year resident Len Pergander.