Will Libertyville's downtown Metra station finally get a new look?
Behind-the-scenes activities continue on long-sought projects in downtown Libertyville, but the ceremonial groundbreaking shovels aren't being readied just yet.
Both the plan for Station Square featuring single-family homes, row houses and apartments for a former industrial site known as the Trimm property, and a renovation of the Metra station just to east are highly visible projects that have languished.
Visible work could begin on each this fall, but the pace of progress depends on variables still being worked out.
On Friday, for example, village officials accepted 10 bids for upgrades and renovation of the Metra station, which is considered a gateway project.
But because there are seven possible project alternates to be reviewed, it's too early to determine which firm was the lowest responsive bidder, what the actual cost will be and whether it is within the village budget, according to Paul Kendzior, public works director.
Cost is key as the village has budgeted $800,000 from accumulated parking fees and Metra is contributing $300,000 to the renovation of what village officials described as a plain station not in keeping with Libertyville's character.
Reworking the building, which does not have restrooms, has been a priority for years. In fact, it originally was to have already been completed. But the low bid of $2.39 million received last fall was more than double the $1.1 million budget and it was back to the drawing board for revisions.
Mayor Terry Weppler said Friday the current bids also are higher than the budget but likely in range to proceed. However, they are still being tabulated, so it's too soon to tell, he said.
As for Station Square, village officials last week granted a one-year extension for the proposed neighborhood of four single-family homes, 34 row houses and a 56-unit apartment building at 200, 216 and 400 W. Lake St.
Other proposed residential projects for the site have come and gone since 2006 when the village reached an agreement with the property owner for as many as 130 residential units.
Developer Rick Swanson told the village "an unexpected change in our capital funding" temporarily complicated the process.
"It's a technicality. We just wanted to preserve our legal status," said Swanson, who also is the architect for the Metra station project.
"The timing of it (Metra bids) happens to be working out well with what we're doing next door," he said.
Station Square involves a land swap with the village to allow for expanded Metra parking. Appraisals on those properties as well as a final plan for remediation of contaminated soil are pending.
An application for a final plat is expected later this summer or early fall, according to John Spoden, community development director.
"We're going to try our best to do site grading this year," Swanson said. Since the plan was presented two years ago, the density has been lowered, street pattern realigned and buildings relocated. Swanson said he plans to introduce a new "farmhouse chic" look for the townhouses.
"I never thought the English country look was Libertyville," he said. "Libertyville has always been a casual, comfortable upscale community."