High-end Garden Station mixed-use apartment building to rise near Villa Park Metra station

Villa Park is poised to join Elmhurst, Lisle, Naperville and other communities that feature high-end apartments near their Metra stations.

On Monday, the village board voted 6-to-1 to allow Burr Ridge-based Hawthorne Development Corporation to move forward on a proposed $120 million mixed-use apartment building northwest of the Villa Park Metra station.

Dubbed Garden Station, the seven-story, 348-unit complex is to be located on 1.69 acres of a block bounded by East Vermont Street on the north, North Beverly Avenue on the east, West Terrace Street to the south and North Ardmore Avenue to the west.

Some of that land is part of a Villa Park-owned Metra parking lot. But part of the village's vote approving Garden Station included a special-use permit that swaps out part of the current lot with a parcel being acquired by the developer east of Beverly Avenue as replacement Metra parking.

Garden Station is to feature 10 studios, 273 one-bedroom apartments and 65 two-bedroom apartments, with the monthly rents on studios starting at $1,600. The building will also have 9,000 square feet dedicated for a street-level restaurant, plus 440 parking spaces for residents.

An earlier board vote on Garden Station was postponed from May 24 after many residents showed up to voice opposition to the project. The board set up a special meeting June 8 for the developers to address residents' concerns about topics such as increased traffic and safety.

Hawthorne Development also used that meeting to share more information on how it plans to get a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council for Garden Station. Amenities, such as a green roof, would make the building cutting edge with its energy efficiency.

The special meeting appeared to help, since most subsequent public comments on Garden Station were positive. Former village president Albert “Al” Bulthuis and former trustee Robert Wagner both spoke in favor of the project at Monday's meeting. They also shared more background about the site, which is within the North Ardmore/Vermont Tax Increment Financing District. In 2009, a previous developer failed to come up with the financing for a different village-approved apartment project.

“I don't know when we're going to get this type of opportunity in that area,” Bulthuis said. “The question tonight is: 'Do you like what you have over on Ardmore by the train station now? Do you want to see something new, something different, which will hopefully bring other businesses into the area?'”

The board's only dissenting vote came from newly elected trustee Jack Corkery. After the meeting, Corkery said he was concerned Garden Station might start a trend of pricing out new and current residents who are not high-income earners.

“I am generally in favor of transit-oriented development and was impressed by the developer's environmental credentials,” Corkery said. “However, I decided to vote 'no' because Villa Park is a strongly working-class community, and I don't feel that an entirely market-rate luxury development is the right choice for our town.”

According to Hawthorne Development President Ganesan “Dr. Vish” Visvabharathy, Garden Station construction will begin as soon as its utility relocation plan is approved by ComEd, AT&T and Comcast. Visvabharathy estimates the project should be completed in two years.

The Villa Park village board has approved the proposed Garden Station mixed-used apartment complex to be built near the village's Metra station. Burr Ridge-based Hawthorne Development Corporation plans to include high-end amenities, such as a swimming pool and in-unit washers and dryers as part of the project. Courtesy of Hawthorne Development Corporation
The Villa Park village board has approved the Garden Station mixed-used apartment complex project to be built near the village's Metra station. Burr Ridge-based Hawthorne Development Corporation plans to seek LEED Gold Certification for the 348-unit building. Courtesy of Hawthorne Development Corporation
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