By Dermot Connolly
The developers of the remaining nine acres of Orland Park’s Downtown Main Street Triangle project said this week that they expect to break ground early next year and have the development completed in 2021.
But representatives of the development firm and architectural firm acknowledged that they have a lot of work to do before groundbreaking.
“We are still in negotiations with the village about the master plan. We will complete that in the next few weeks or months,” said Jeff Berta, senior director of real estate with Structured Development.
The Chicago-based company has been chosen by the village from the six that submitted proposals to develop the remaining nine village-owned acres on the Triangle property.
The vacant sites are scattered throughout the property, which is bounded by 143rd Street, LaGrange Road, and the Metra railroad tracks.
The Triangle, which became a TIF district in 2004, currently is home to Ninety7Fifty on the Park—a nearly 300-unit luxury apartment complex, the University of Chicago Medicine Center for Advanced Care, the 143rd Street Metra Station, a 500-space public parking structure and the village’s Crescent Park
In response to a resident’s question at a “visioning session” Monday at the Orland Park Civic Center, Berta said that in addition to the vacant sites, his company will also take responsibility for an existing piece of commercial property attached to the parking structure that was intended as retail space.
Berta said a mixed-use development is planned, with retail, restaurants, entertainment and residential—meaning upscale condos, apartments or townhomes. He noted said specific site plans, which will have to be approved by the village at public meetings, have not been drawn up yet. After the master plan is finalized, and input from residents is incorporated, his company will begin negotiating with possible retail tenants before buying the property from the village later this year.
“We’ve been at this since around the turn of the century,” said Mayor Keith Pekau. “A lot of things have changed (in the real estate market) since it began (in 2000). Of the seven us on the Village Board, I think we all agree we are excited about this project. We’re here to hear constructive comments about this mixed-use plan. We want it to be something that everyone in town can enjoy, not just those who leave nearby.”
When one resident raised concerns about increased traffic on 143rd Street, Pekau said plans are in the works to improve the road between LaGrange and Will-Cook Road. “We are aware of that. The engineering has already been done but funding is needed.”
“I am happy to see the project being completed. We’ve been working on this for a long time,” said former mayor Dan McLaughlin, who was at the public meeting. As mayor until 2017, he oversaw the existing development of the area.
Village Manager Joe La Margo, who is heading up the discussions with Structured Development, said the master plan will determine the specifics of what types of businesses and amenities the village wants on the property.
“We are excited to partner with the team at Structured Development,” said La Margo. “It has been good working relationship with them so far. I am sure they will take all these suggestions they get tonight into consideration for their final plans.”
Berta and Rich Van Zeyl, the senior design architect with Wight & Co., the architectural firm working with Structured Development, invited residents to share their ideas on what they would like to see, and what they don’t. They did so by placing adhesive dots on picture boards depicting various options. Residents also filled a board with sticky notes stating what their preferences—as well as what they don’t want.
“We want to hear from you—what you like and what you don’t like. Being able to work on this project is very special to me,” said Van Zeyl, who grew up in Orland Park and graduated from Sandburg High School.
“We take the time to listen. We take the time to adapt and are flexible in our thinking. It is your community and we want to make sure the project is successful,” said Berta.
“I am looking for outdoor dining and entertainment options,” said resident Dave Hilger, who placed his dots on a concert pavilion and beer garden.
“Right now, you have to go to downtown (Chicago) for concerts, and all the outdoor dining is on LaGrange Road—and I really mean on LaGrange Road.”
Judging by the large number of dots on those types of amenities, a lot of other people in the room had the same idea.
“I am glad to see that, because those are the types of things we are thinking of too,” said Pekau. “It is good to see we are on the same wavelength as residents.”