A practice sports facility may fill the long-vacant Hines Lumber site on Madison Street — but it could be a long time before teams can take the fields or courts.
River Forest trustees Monday night unanimously gave direction to start the process of assessing Thomas Cronin's plan to turn the Hines property and the village's adjacent public works facility into a 65,000-square-foot sports complex.
The complex would include an indoor, 45-yard, football practice field; a 160-meter indoor track; and multi-use courts for basketball, volleyball and other sports. Parking would be situated at the north and south ends of the building. The complex would be situated near the Good Earth Greenhouse/Juice Joint.
Groups and individuals would use the complex for a fee, said Cronin, who signed a contract for the property a couple of months ago, refusing to disclose the name of the principal tenant for the project, but he hinted it is an institution of higher learning in River Forest with deep roots in River Forest.
The site will go back on the tax rolls, Cronin indicated, adding that he knew the village wanted retail for that site, but it would be a tough place to situate shops because of the lot size (it is long and narrow) and location.
Cronin, however, noted the sports complex would bring "moms and dads and kids and mini-vans to the area to shop and engage."
"There's a big need for something like this because of the explosion of youth sports," he said.
A project like this could inspire other businesses down Madison Street to do something, Trustee Susan Conti pointed out.
The complex would be a unique use, Village Administrator Eric Palm said, because that area hasn't seen a lot of sports facilities like this.
It also is the first serious proposal brought forward for the site, which housed Hines Lumber for nearly a century before it was forced to close nearly four years ago after the economy collapsed.
The proposal will now go to the Development Review Board, which will be tasked with conducting hearings and making recommendations to the village board on the application.
The project also may be examined by the newly-created ad-hoc economic development committee to assess whether it fits in with the corridor study, Village President Catherine Adduci said. Creation of the committee also was formally approved Monday night.
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