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By Devin Rose
Area developers said Monday night that the former Hines Lumber site in River Forest might be a good spot for a neighborhood pizza pub or a larger apartment complex, but is probably too small for a grocery store that had been suggested by a village committee.
The site at 7820 W. Madison St. was under contract as of June 8 with a contingent status, according to a real estate listing service, but village staff and members of the Community and Economic Development Committee said at the meeting they did not know who the potential buyer was. The site has sat vacant since Hines closed in August 2009.
Village Administrator Eric Palm said NorStates Bank in Waukegan, which owns the property, wants to close in mid-August.
Four developers attended the meeting to discuss what might work best at the site. Tim Hague, a local resident and president of Keystone Ventures, LLC, said he liked the ideas put forth in the village's Corridor Plan that the village adopted in 2010. Those concepts included retail space with parking or a mixture of retail and housing.
He said the street has less traffic than others, which presents a challenge when trying to attract people to a retail development. The village would be "hard-pressed" to get a food store on Madison Street because of the traffic flow, he said, though he thought a Sonic or Culver's might work.
Hague added he's seeing larger apartment complexes with 150 units getting built, so he wouldn't be surprised if there was a proposal for one.
Andy Gagliardo of Gagliardo Realty in River Forest, said a retail establishment in front and residential units behind seems like an appropriate combination. He said towns like Oak Brook and Hinsdale have a lot of larger town homes for empty-nesters, but he didn't know if that would work well at the Hines site.
If the village could acquire the Good Earth Greenhouse on the next block and buy a few homes to the north on Forest Avenue, a higher-density residential building could be built, said architect Steve Saunders, a former member of the village's Plan Commission.
Trustee Susan Conti said the greenhouse owner has talked about some ideas, but nothing has moved forward yet.
Scott Stefanik, of a realty company in Oak Brook, said he was leaning toward a restaurant and pub for the area because it's "not a great retail site."
The developers agreed that Concordia Cemetery on the other side of the street and the train tracks running adjacent make it a hard site to work with.
"We have to talk tenants into it," Stefanik said. He added he liked the idea, previously reported by the Journal, from Bounce Indoor Sportsplex to install two ice rinks.