Downtown Mundelein streetscape changing with demolition of public works building

The streetscape in downtown Mundelein is once again undergoing significant change, this time on the south end.

More than a year after it was sold to a private developer, the former public works headquarters at 440 E. Crystal St. is being knocked down.

The current owner, a corporation called SB Mundelein Station, once proposed turning the nearly 7-acre site into an apartment complex. Those plans may change, but residential redevelopment remains likely, Village Administrator Eric Guenther said.

Guenther called the old municipal building's demolition "a tangible sign of progress in the area."

Other changes in that part of town include: the construction of a pedestrian bridge over the Canadian National railroad tracks near the village's Metra station; the conversion of a publicly owned, vacant lot on Park Street to a community gathering space; and the continued use of Park Street as a seasonal, outdoor dining area.

"I suspect this entire downtown region (will) see significant change over the next few years," Guenther said.

SB Mundelein Station acquired the property as part of a land swap with the village.

The company sold 12 acres of the former U.S. Music Corp. property at 444 E. Courtland St. to Mundelein for a mere $10 - the same price as the Crystal Street land.

The village is using the Courtland Street property for stormwater detention to help relieve flooding in that part of town. A public park is planned there, too.

SB Mundelein Station kept 4 acres at the Courtland Street site to build townhouses or another type of residential development there.

The deal didn't leave the public works department homeless. A new, $24 million public works and engineering headquarters opened last year at 801 Allanson Road.

That 110,000-square-foot complex brought together employees from three municipal buildings, creating more redevelopment opportunities in the downtown area, said Adam Boeche, Mundelein's public works and engineering director.

The demolition of the old public works complex began last month. This week, the village board agreed to give the owners until Dec. 31 to finish demolition. The deadline - and one regarding the expected receipt of public funds for the project - had been Oct. 31.

Boeche said some longtime employees have felt pangs of nostalgia as the old public works headquarters started coming down. But anticipation for the future prevails.

"We're excited to see (the old building) come down for the opportunity that exists for the redevelopment," Boeche said.

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  The former Mundelein Public Works Department headquarters at 440 E. Crystal St. is being demolished. Village Administrator Eric Guenther called the demolition a "tangible sign of progress in the area." Paul Valade/
The former Mundelein Public Works building at 440 E. Crystal St. is being demolished to make way for future what village officials expect to be a residential development. Daily Herald File Photo, 2013
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