Could a park with a guitar-inspired promenade replace vacant factory in Mundelein?

  • A municipal park has been proposed for the site of the former U.S. Music Corp. factory in Mundelein. Village leaders praised the proposal this week, but also expressed reservations about its preliminary $1.5 million price tag.

      A municipal park has been proposed for the site of the former U.S. Music Corp. factory in Mundelein. Village leaders praised the proposal this week, but also expressed reservations about its preliminary $1.5 million price tag. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Mundelein village board members got their first look this week at plans for a proposed municipal park on the site of the former U.S. Music Corp. factory.

      Mundelein village board members got their first look this week at plans for a proposed municipal park on the site of the former U.S. Music Corp. factory. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 2/12/2020 3:09 PM

Plans for a new municipal park on the site of a former guitar factory in Mundelein got rave reviews from village officials this week.

With a preliminary $1.5 million price tag, the park is planned for land at 444 E. Courtland St. A 13,000-square-foot building there has stood vacant since U.S. Music Corp. relocated to Buffalo Grove about 10 years ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

During Monday night's village board meeting, Daniel Grove, a senior project manager with Lisle-based Kimley-Horn and Associates, walked Mundelein officials through the plans his firm developed.

Mundelein officials this week praised this design for what would become Courtland Commons park on the site of a long-vacant guitar factory.
Mundelein officials this week praised this design for what would become Courtland Commons park on the site of a long-vacant guitar factory. - Courtesy of Village of Mundelein

Gateways, a promenade, a plaza with seating, paths, sculptures and a performance stage are among the planned elements for the park, which has been dubbed Courtland Commons.

Even though the factory building will be torn town, the designs integrate elements of the building and its history, Grove said.

For example, the plan for a main gateway incorporates the building's cantilevered design. Likewise, the promenade design resembles a guitar neck, down to concrete bands that look like frets from overhead.

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Before U.S. Music occupied the building, it was a picture frame factory. Grove suggested commissioning public art that resembles picture frames as a connection to that history.

All of those suggested elements would tell a story and make the site authentic to Mundelein, Grove said.

"(It) honors that past," he said.

Mundelein village trustees are considering a plan to replace the long-vacant U.S. Music Corp. factory with a park.
  Mundelein village trustees are considering a plan to replace the long-vacant U.S. Music Corp. factory with a park. - Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

A stretch of the Seavey drainage ditch, which relieves the regional Indian Creek watershed, is on the property and will remain. A stormwater detention pond will be built on the site to further prevent flooding.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

That pond is part of a $10 million flood-control project developed after a July 2017 rainstorm caused catastrophic damage in the neighborhood.

When it came time for trustee comments, board member Robin Meier called it a "superior plan."

"It honors the past and plans for the future and takes care of present (needs)," she said.

Trustee Erich Schwenk gushed about the plan, too.

"I love it," he said. "The guitar, the frets, the neck ... It looks like a guitar. well done."

But Schwenk and other trustees also raised concerns about how the village will pay for the park.

Village Administrator John Lobaito said officials will seek grants to help cover the cost. Additionally, the work can be done in phases or scaled back to make budgeting easier, he said.

"I don't think it's going to be $1.5 million," Lobaito said.

An image from the Courtland Commons park proposal in Mundelein.
An image from the Courtland Commons park proposal in Mundelein. - Courtesy of Village of Mundelein

Trustees eventually voted to accept the plan. More board action will be needed to make it a reality.

The entire U.S. Music site occupies about 16 acres and is owned by a private developer. The village needs to purchase about 12 acres of the site to create the stormwater detention area and park, Lobaito said.

About three of the remaining acres are reserved for a proposed apartment-building development.

Village officials plan to sell the developer nearly 7 acres of adjacent land now occupied by the public works department, which is moving, Lobaito said.

The developer plans to build townhouses there, Lobaito said.

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