Village officials talk downtown, overpass
Village Administrator John Lobaito shares updated downtown plans with more than 40 community leaders during March 7 stakeholders forum at the Mundelein Fire Headquarters. | Rick Kambic~Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 15, 2013 8:18AM
MUNDELEIN — More than 40 community leaders gathered this month to hear updates and provide feedback on Mundelein’s downtown redevelopment.
Village Administrator John Lobaito provided details on the long-term, 40-acre redevelopment along the Metra railroad tracks. The project includes a $10.4 million village hall to anchor the first 10-acre subdivision.
“There is a change in Mundelein like there never has been in the history of this town,” Lobaito said. “It’s not over after village hall is built. This is a 20-year venture that is bound to change along the way.”
Several attendees asked what the village plans for the new downtown buildings. Lobaito said he hopes for first-floor retail or restaurant space with offices on higher levels.
Increased use of the Metra station and more event-friendly space would both supplement and fuel the retail shops, Lobaito said.
John Ramer, a resident and pastor at Gracepointe Church, said the village must emphasize restaurants and specialty stores because people won’t mingle at convenience stores or mini-department stores.
“Before I moved to Mundelein 23 years ago, I lived in Europe and those countries make sure you have a reason to spend time in their downtowns,” Ramer said. “Mundelein is going to die without a downtown redevelopment, so this has to be done right.”
Other attendees suggested moving a park district facility to the new downtown, so residents can shop and eat before or after classes.
Village leaders also gave an update on the proposed pedestrian overpass. The initial overpass was discarded due to the excessive length of the winding, inclined walkway, Village Planner Victor Berrera said.
A standard “straight up, over, straight down” overpass is now being designed, Berrera said. This $3 million-to-$4 million project costs more because an elevator will most likely be needed for handicap accessibility.
Once the project is ready for ground breaking later this year, Berrera said he’s confident the village can earn a grant to cover 80 percent of the expense.
The overpass would connect pedestrians to shops and offices on both sides of the tracks, and make the Cardinal Square condo development more valuable. The first building constructed has 84 units and is half owner-occupied, half rented, condo association board member Russ Butson said.
Metra decided to reject a previous idea for a ground-level crossing about a year ago, Butson said, due to concerns for pedestrian safety.
Butson said he’s pleased with Mundelein’s response to the situation and the development of an overpass.