Plans for park on site of former guitar factory progressing in Mundelein

Mundelein trustees have hired a Chicago-based firm to design a municipal park on the site of a former guitar factory.

The village board on Monday tapped Kimley-Horn and Associates to formally design elements for land at 444 E. Courtland St., where the former U.S. Music Corp. building now stands.

Kimley-Horn officials publicly unveiled preliminary plans for the site in February. Gateways, a promenade, a plaza with seating, paths, sculptures, a butterfly sanctuary and a performance stage are envisioned.

The design work will cost taxpayers $123,300. The entire project has a $1.5 million price tag.

Trustees unanimously approved the design contract Monday during a meeting held remotely because of the COVID-19 pandemic. An audio recording of the meeting is available at

Trustee Dawn Abernathy, who earlier this year was among the board majority that shot down a Kimley-Horn park proposal for land near Diamond Lake, asked why the officials were awarding the contract without a bidding process.

In response, Village Administrator John Lobaito said it's "natural" to hire Kimley-Horn for the job because it created the original proposal.

"It's their plan that we're taking to the next step," he said.

Abernathy also questioned the price of the job. "It's quite a bit," she said.

Trustee Erich Schwenk asked if the various elements to be designed can be built in phases.

Adam Boeche, the village's public works and engineering director, said that would be "challenging."

"The nature of this park doesn't really lend to the phasing of it," Boeche said.

Even so, Boeche said he and the Kimley-Horn team would keep Schwenk's suggestion in mind as work progresses.

The 13,000-square-foot building on the site has stood vacant since U.S. Music moved to Buffalo Grove about 10 years ago.

The building will be torn down to make way for the park and a stormwater detention pond. The pond is part of a $10 million flood-control project developed after a July 2017 rainstorm caused catastrophic damage in the neighborhood.

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.

About three of the remaining acres are reserved for a proposed apartment-building development. A deal is pending, Lobaito recently said.

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  A park has been proposed for the former U.S. Music factory site in Mundelein. Village trustees on Monday approved a $123,300 contract for design work. Mark Welsh/
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