Des Plaines buys land on Oakton Street for new Metra station
Des Plaines officials are buying land on Oakton Street that could become the site of a new Metra train station.
Under a deal approved Monday, the city will spend $190,619 for the vacant property at 1380 E. Oakton St.
The roughly 17,000-square-foot, rectangular parcel is on the north side of Oakton and east of Lee Street. Perhaps most importantly, it's next to the railroad tracks that are part of Metra's North Central Line between Antioch and Chicago.
Des Plaines doesn't have a stop on the North Central line, and such a station is a key part of the city's plans for that part of town.
Des Plaines' two current train stations both are on the Union Pacific Northwest Line that runs between Chicago's Ogilvie Transportation Center and Harvard and McHenry. One is downtown on Miner Street; the other is the Cumberland stop on Northwest Highway.
An Oakton Street station on the North Central line would give riders a direct trip to O'Hare International Airport and Chicago Union Station. It also could alleviate parking issues at the city's other stations and encourage redevelopment in the Oakton corridor, a 2019 study indicated.
Some Des Plaines officials have envisioned creating a second downtown district near Oakton and Lee, complete with apartment buildings or other high-density housing developments that would attract residents who use public transportation.
A train station there "will be a catalyst for investment and spur transit-oriented development along the Oakton corridor," City Manager Mike Bartholomew said.
It's up to Metra to approve a new station. Building one could cost Des Plaines between $10 million and $12 million, officials have said.
The city council greenlit the Oakton Street land purchase without discussion at its meeting Monday night.
The seller is local entrepreneur Bob Albrecht, who owns it via a limited liability company. Albrecht, who owns other properties on Oakton, too, said he hopes the train station plan comes to fruition.
"It's good for Oakton Street," he said.
Funds for the purchase will come from property tax revenue generated by a special taxing district established in 2019 that focuses on the Oakton Street corridor.