Before final vote, Rolling Meadows mayor-elect pushes his plan for Dominick's site
Redevelopment of much of the former Dominick's property in downtown Rolling Meadows is all but a done deal, with a final vote to approve a 106-unit townhouse development scheduled by the lame-duck city council for Tuesday.
But Mayor-elect Joe Gallo -- one of two aldermen to vote against the project during a first reading vote March 26 -- remains committed to his vision for a city town center on the property, and appears poised to use his new position as a bully pulpit to push for it.
"We should not be moving forward," Gallo said of developer Taylor Morrison's plan for two- and three-story townhouses on 9.5 acres at 2819-2915 Kirchoff Road. "I want Taylor Morrison to cease and desist from moving forward with that. It is not good for our community. It's not healthy and it's not going to do us any good."
What exactly the new mayor can do legally when he takes office in May is still unclear.
During a wide-ranging interview with the Daily Herald the day after his election victory, Gallo suggested he may seek outside counsel to at least ask questions about not only the Dominick's property, but the fire stations construction project -- two hot-button issues that have dominated Rolling Meadows politics for more than a decade.
Since joining the council as Ward 4 alderman in 2017, Gallo has been outspoken on both topics, arguing Station 15 -- located right across the street from the Dominick's site in his ward -- should've been rebuilt where it is. Construction of a new Station 15 is currently underway on Algonquin Road.
In concert with Craig Carlson, owner of Comet Frozen Custard that is neighbor to Station 15, Gallo conceptualized a plan for the 11-acre Dominick's property that would include a mix of retail, residential and parkland.
A sketch they developed shows five commercial/retail buildings, an amphitheater, pavilion for farmers markets and food trucks, ice rink, multipurpose fields, and three single-story townhouse buildings on the periphery.
Gallo has proposed a public-private partnership to invest in the project, whereby the city would provide "community renaissance incentives" to developers.
He believes there's already a "super saturation" of residential in the city and more housing isn't needed. And commercial development would bode well for the taxes generated for city coffers, he says.
"You don't build up a city by just adding more houses so they can go build and have commerce elsewhere," Gallo said.
The outgoing mayor, Len Prejna, has also long pushed for more commercial on the Kirchoff Road site, but in recent weeks, failed to convince Taylor Morrison to reduce the density of its proposal. Prejna also hasn't had the votes of the majority of the council, which rezoned the southern 9.5-acre portion of the site from commercial to residential more than a year ago. The remaining 1.5 acres along Kirchoff would be kept for commercial use.
Most aldermen have said they're in favor of the residential plan because there hasn't been interest in the market for more commercial on the site. Much of the property has been vacant since 2004, while other redevelopment proposals -- from townhouses and apartments to a senior housing community -- have fallen through or been rejected.
Last council meeting -- a week before Election Day -- aldermen voted 5-2 on the preliminary first reading of an ordinance approving Taylor Morrison's development.
The second reading vote is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at city hall, 3600 Kirchoff Road.