First reported 7/16/2009 2:31 p.m.

Edward Hines Lumber Co., a longtime fixture on Madison at Forest Avenue, will close its doors for good this August. Hines CEO Gerald Willie confirmed the store’s closing July 15.

Willie said the decision to close the full-service lumberyard in River Forest was prompted by a number of factors, not the least of which is the economy.

“There’s a lot of reasons,” he said. “The economy isn’t very strong right now.” He said another factor was the village’s decision to attempt to levy “a special tax” on the business.

Willie had asked to meet with village officials on June 22 after reading of the village board’s intention to impose a new tax on lumber sales. He described the meeting as “nice and cordial.”

Willie said he notified Village Administrator Steve Gutierrez of the decision to close the business in a July 8 phone call.

The River Forest location, which opened Nov. 18 1910, was once one of 22 locations for the company in Chicago and northwest Indiana. Hines now has five other full-service lumberyards.

Willie said some stock will be transferred to other locations, and that a sale will be held for remaining merchandise. The company isn’t waiting for the closing to put the property on the market.

“We have a gentleman working on that,” Willie said.

Village planning consultant John Houseal told the village board in June that the Hines site was one of several properties looked at for potential redevelop under what-if scenarios. That review was done as part of the soon-to-be finished River Forest Corridor Study, which is expected to go before the board in August.

Village President John Rigas said the site offers unique redevelopment opportunities, with its deep foot print. Those opportunities and options, he said, would certainly be discussed by Houseal and the village board when the Corridor Study is finalized over the next month or so.

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