Mundelein townhouse project 'a big deal for the downtown'
A long-sought plan to redevelop a former industrial part of downtown Mundelein has passed a critical milestone with work on a transformational townhouse development expected to begin this summer.
Morris Station involves 139 rental townhouses in 16 buildings to be constructed on a combination of five village-owned and private properties south from Maple Avenue (Route 176) to East Park Street on either side of the Canadian National railroad tracks.
Village officials this past week approved an agreement with developer Sterling Hall LLC detailing responsibilities of both parties and village incentives that could exceed $3.2 million.
Improving the area has been part of the village's long-term vision to revive and transition a historically industrial downtown to a mix of residential and commercial uses.
This particular site between Seymour Avenue to the west and Morris Avenue on the east has been targeted by the village for a residential use to provide increased foot traffic and density as to support nearby businesses.
The village has considered the properties as potential redevelopment opportunities since the mid-1990s, according to Amanda Orenchuk, community development director.
Plans evolved beginning in 2016 with the village's purchase of the former Bradco Supply Corp. at 538 Morris Ave. In 2019, the village acquired the former Alan Josephsen Recycling Center at 101 E. Maple Ave.
Both were demolished and the land cleared in anticipation of development. Smaller residential projects had been pitched for portions of the site. But what became Morris Station, a single plan on a unified site, began taking shape about two years ago.
"The project is a big deal for the downtown," Orenchuk said. "It is in the area that has historical significance to the village and is the oldest part of the community."
Assembling the package has been difficult for a variety of reasons, Orenchuk said. Among them was adding three private properties to create a single site and plan. That area is occupied by a single-family home, 10-unit apartment building and a vacant structure fronting Route 176.
The cost of acquiring the properties and finding the right price for the village to sell its land required environmental remediation. A desire to improve streets, sidewalks and other features bordering the site also came into play, Orenchuk said.
"It's taken quite awhile to get here and find the proper partner to move forward with," she said. "We think it's going to be something unique in the village."
Kevin Micheli, Sterling Hall principal, told village trustees before the unanimous vote on the redevelopment agreement that a lot of behind the scenes work was done in the past two years.
Micheli, who also is the chief operating officer and president of Charles Hall Construction, the general contractor for Morris station, said the project wouldn't have happened without the financial incentive.
Village incentives amount to about $1 million in impact fees, $100,000 in permit fees, reduction in land costs and a $2.1 million reimbursement through tax increment financing for land acquisition, demolition and other eligible costs, Orenchuk said.
The village also paid an unspecified cost for street, sidewalk and related improvements surrounding the site.
With the development agreement and final plat approved, Micheli said they now are securing a site development permit.
The next big step is closing on the properties, which is expected by late July, he said. Demolition and mass grading would begin immediately after, Micheli added.