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By Devin Rose
River Forest officials want potential developers to know that the former Hines Lumber site on Madison Street—and, possibly, the adjacent Public Works Department building to the north—are there for the taking.
A link to potential redevelopment concepts for the site at 7820 Madison St. appeared on the village website last week. The options laid out are taken from the village's corridor plan adopted in 2010.
"We want to start being a little bit more aggressive if at all possible in providing information," said Village Administrator Eric Palm, when asked why the decision was made to post information about the site now.
He said with the real estate market possibly coming back and lending loosening up, staff wanted to put the options on the table if someone has an idea.
There has been some interest expressed, asking what the zoning regulations are and what the development process is like, but nothing has been concrete, Palm said.
Hines Lumber closed in August 2009 and the property is now owned by NorStates Bank in Waukegan. Palm said the hardware store/lumberyard structures would likely be teardowns because it no longer seems very functional.
According to the corridor plan, one concept for the site is a commercial retail building on Madison Street with 80 parking spots behind it and a relocated auto service facility to the north.
The second option calls for a large retail building with 103 parking spots behind it. The third shows a retail building, 12 row-house units with rear-loaded garages to the north and 52 parking spots.
The plan says multi-family housing is more compatible with the adjacent residential areas along Forest Avenue. Other plan suggestions include a restaurant or multiple buildings instead of just one. But a potential developer does not have to use those concepts, Palm said.
The village-owned Public Works Department building on Forest Avenue can also be incorporated into a development, meaning its contents would have to move somewhere else. Public Works Director Phil Cotter said including the site provides a more attractive opportunity.
If it is used, Palm said the village could rent space for its trucks and equipment while it looks look for a permanent location for public works. He has said in previous months the building needs a new roof and other upgrades.
"We've been looking and will continue to (look) for an alternate location," Cotter said.
Village President John Rigas said staff has discussed incorporating other communities like Oak Park and Forest Park into its possible relocation plan for public works. No one has contacted those communities yet, Rigas said.
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