Mundelein downtown plans moving forward
Caboose Restaurant owners Ted Banick and Brian Carman hope the new downtown development increases foot traffic. | Michelle LaVigne ~ Sun-Times Media
MUNDELEIN — A plan to revitalize downtown Mundelein has been in the works for more than 10 years. As designs for the new village hall get finalized before December, village administrators hope to spark redevelopment.
At 32,000 square feet, the new two-story building will take one of the six lots created when the village bought and demolished an industrial warehouse next to the Metra train station in 2010.
When the warehouse was destroyed, construction crews reused 250,000 pounds of concrete while building a roadway for the future subdivision.
With streets and utilities now installed, the finalized village hall designs will be bid in December. The Mundelein Village Board is expected to accept construction contracts in January.
Village Administrator John Lobaito hopes the $10 million village hall project sparks interest from private investors. With a public building being built and opened in an empty 10-acre subdivision, he believes prospective builders will respect the village’s commitment.
One company has already agreed to relocate into the subdivision.
Weston Solutions, the environmental engineering firm spearheading the downtown project, agreed to rent the second floor the new structure.
“One of our challenges is business attraction and retention,” Lobaito said. “We’re trying to create a downtown environment where people will be comfortable, want to spend time in, and where businesses can prosper.”
Better use of the Metra station and making downtown pedestrian-friendly should boost the local economy, Lobaito said.
The goal is to have office buildings near the railroad tracks, with restaurants and small shops in the same development.
The six lots would circle around a courtyard, where a small park could host community events or provide for leisure time.
The 10-acre land is not a new downtown, Lobaito said.
Mundelein bought a 6.5-acre lot opposite the Metra parking lot in 2005, and the village also began a redevelopment plan across the railroad tracks, where several condominiums are being constructed – known as Cardinal Square.
“People like to live near access to public transportation, and they like to live near quality shopping venues,” Lobaito said. “The industrial railroad days in Mundelein are over.”
In the process, Mundelein plans to connect existing roads to the 40 acres of land being redeveloped.
“Right now, there is only one road that leads into the Metra station,” Lobaito said. “We plan to rework the street grid to make everything accessible, while keeping Hawley Street as a focal point, too.”
Streetscape plans for Hawley are also being drawn, which involve new sidewalks, curbs, street lamps, banners and park benches.
The new roads on the 10-acre lot were constructed in full view of Caboose Restaurant, located on Hawley Street near Morris Avenue.
In Mundelein for nearly five years, Caboose’s ownership has witnessed the economic change and welcomes Lobaito’s redevelopment plans.
“When people have time to kill, they always look to find a good bite to eat or a place to get coffee and chat,” Caboose co-owner Brian Carman said. “Increasing foot traffic would definitely help us.”
The new offices in Mundelein are what Carman looks forward to most. He said many Motorola employees eat at Caboose every day, and he will lose that business when the Motorola moves out of Libertyville next year.
Though he admits the times are bad, Carman said he and his partner Ted Banick are committed to staying in Mundelein and expect to see the downtown redevelopment come to fruition.
“We opened smack dab in the middle of the bad economy, and if we’re doing all right here and now, we’ll be great for years to come,” Carman said. “We plan to see how this turns out.”