River Grove looks to revamp area around Metra station
The village of River Grove has received an RTA Grant to pay for the planning of redevelopment around their Metra station on Thatcher Avenue. | Rob Hart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 8, 2013 6:57AM
RIVER GROVE — Gearing up for future development is always better with a plan, and village officials will soon have one.
Ray Bernero, River Grove’s economic development director, said the village has targeted the village’s Metra train station, located just north of Grand Avenue and west of Thatcher Avenue, as a hub of new development.
To the northeast of the station is 2.16 acres of available land.
The village recently received a Regional Transit Authority Transit-Oriented Development grant that will lay the foundation for what the village wants to put in that location.
“It’s an open-ended grant,” he said. “All of the bidders are pre-approved by the RTA. We anticipate it (grant costs) could run no more than $200,000.”
Urban planning firms will bid on the project in terms of creating a transit-oriented development plan for that area of land. Bernero said once the planning firm is chosen it will work with the village to develop a detailed plan that would tie in with the Metra station along with what residents and village officials would like to see go in that 2.16-acre site.
Usually a plan like this would have had to be paid for with village funds. Bernero and village officials are glad they don’t have to pick up the tab.
“If we don’t take it (grant), someone else will,” he said. “Better in our town than in someone else’s.”
Urban planning companies Teaks Associates Inc. and The Lakota Group have responded to the village’s request for proposals.
“Our objective is to have the finished product so that we can share with developers,” Bernero said. “Show it to them and say ‘Here is what we would like built on this site.’”
Bernero said the overall goal is to get more people to use public transit, so adding housing of some kind to the area would be part of the plan, along with new businesses.
River Grove Mayor Marilynn May said the location is perfect for some kind of new development.
“We will recommend what would be good for our area,” she said. “We want jobs in River Grove and we want to let those kinds of people in to build things.”
Prior to any kind of development taking place on the 2.16 acre site, the village must find a new home for its public works department, which is located there now.
But the village found money to change that as well -- a $1.6 million grant from Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Development to purchase land and relocate the department.
He said the timing for all of this to take place is perfect and the move will take place soon.
The new site for the public works department will be at 2101 West St., formerly the location of Falcon Impex Inc., which dealt in selling paper products. The village will pay about $250,000 on top of the grant amount to complete the relocation.
Bernero said the relocation will start in the spring and should be completed by the summer.
“That allows whoever we retain to do this redevelopment (plan) to work on putting it together while we are vacating the site.”