After nearly three more hours of presentations plus guidance from a village planner last week, River Forest trustees may be looking at Sept. 28 as the date for deciding what will be developed on village-owned land at Lake Street and Park Avenue.
And they could very well take some of their cues from residents, who will have another opportunity to weigh in during a committee of the whole meeting on Sept 21.
After that, trustees should have the information they need to choose a developer for the property.
The Economic Development Commission, an advisory group of appointed River Forest residents, unanimously recommended that luxury rentals proposed by Pine Grove Centrum Partners would be the best use for the site.
The commission also considered an idea for a condo/townhouse/retail project from Tim Hague’s Keystone Ventures and an assisted living facility from Pathways Assisted Living.
Since May, when the recommendation went before trustees, some residents have objected to the rental units, saying the project would be too dense for the site, create traffic and parking problems and overly increase the number of students at Lincoln Elementary School.
Others, like Carolyn Kilbride, said trustees should carefully consider all three proposals and make sure that the data for each makes sense.
“This will change the flavor of the area. Change can be good … if it’s done right,” said Kilbride, who has a background in mechanical engineering and also has worked in construction.
In May, the village board put the brakes on choosing a developer and asked the EDC to respond to a multitude of questions and requested that the firms present their projects before the trustees.
“All of this is part of the process,” Village President Catherine Adduci said. “Understanding the nuances of each proposal and its impact on the community will be important. We need to take whatever time is necessary to ensure the trustees are informed.”
The situation is unique, Adduci said, because this is the first, and may be the only time the village has its own land to develop.
“We need to take extra steps to ensure that our decision on what to develop on village owned property is the right one,” Adduci said. “The EDC provided us with its professional analysis. However, in the end, it is the elected officials’ decision that will be final.”
In the fall of 2014, the village board charged the EDC with crafting a request for proposal to develop the long-vacant site, which is mainly used for parking. The three proposals were vetted during a public meeting in March.
In May, the EDC unanimously chose Pine Grove, which is proposing to build a six-story building with 80 high-end one and two-bedroom rentals. The notion of luxury rentals impressed the commission, because it is a type of residential property that River Forest lacks. It also fulfilled the desire for transit-oriented development on that property.
Trustees could reject the recommendation and go with Keystone Ventures mixed-use condo/townhome/retail plan. Keystone also is the preferred developer for the southwest corner of Lake Street and Lathrop Avenue. Or trustees could select Pathways’ assisted-living development or send out another request for proposals.
There are a lot of unknowns. All three proposals are just concepts and all details, such as permit fees and acquisition costs of the village’s property, would need to be negotiated. Discussions will also drive the look of the project as well as how much in property taxes the development could ultimately generate.