Liberty Station is major proposal for village
Developer John McLinden is proposing a major redevelopment project in downtown on Lake Street near the downtown Metra station. The plan would include homes, apartments, offices, restaurants, a grocery store and two parking decks. | Joe Cyganowski~For Su
Updated: May 28, 2012 8:13AM
John McLinden is embarking on a project that could change the face of downtown Libertyville.
McLinden, a Libertyville developer who created the residential development on School Street, has his eyes set on a much bigger project. Called Liberty Station, the proposed 17-acre transit-oriented development off of Lake Street, would include a combination of retail, apartment buildings, single family homes, row homes, a grocery store, two parking decks and a public pavilion.
McLinden said the project is not intended to change the character of downtown Libertyville but to “enhance what is already a great downtown.”
“We think in a number of years people will be able to walk through it and it will feel like it’s been there forever,” he said. “That’s the goal.”
The project, which would likely take several years to complete, is proposed to built on the Trimm Property, a former industrial property west of the downtown Metra station. It would also utilize part of the existing Metra train station parking lot and developers are in negotiations with other property owners to acquire additional land east of Lake Street,
Overall, the plan proposes more than 300 new housing units in the downtown. Most of the new housing would be located in three multi-story apartment buildings that would be located west of the existing train station. The project would also include some single family homes similar to those in the School Street development, as well as town homes and row homes.
McLinden said the housing, when completed, would bring an estimated 500 new people to the downtown, generating additional foot traffic for downtown businesses.
The plan also proposes two new parking decks, including a four-level parking garage at the northeast corner of Lake Street and Brainerd Avenue and a three-level parking garage next to the apartment buildings near the train tracks. McLinden said the new parking structures would provide more than adequate parking for Metra commuters and shoppers as well as residents of the apartment buildings. The plan also proposes a new street grid with three new streets including a partial western extension of Newberry Street west of Brainerd Avenue.
There are also plans for two restaurants and additional retail on the east end of the project along Milwaukee Avenue and a proposed new grocery store a block west of Milwaukee Avenue.
“If you ask people what’s missing here in the downtown, it’s a grocery store,” said McLinden. “It would be a great addition to downtown Libertyville.”
The plan also would include an indoor pavilion surrounded by a public plaza, which would be located just west of Milwaukee Avenue.
“We believe the plaza will become the soul of Liberty Station,” said McLinden.
He presented a preliminary concept of the plan to Libertyville officials last week during a committee of the whole meeting that included members of the Village Board, Plan Commission/Zoning Board of Appeals, Appearance Review Commission and Economic Development Commission.
Mayor Terry Weppler emphasized the plan is preliminary, but said village officials were initially impressed by what they saw.
“It’s a very interesting project,” said Weppler. “There are some things that will need to be addressed, but overall it’s well thought out.”
Weppler said the village has been interested in some type of transit-oriented development near the train station for several years. There had been previous attempts to develop the Trimm property but none of the previous projects materialized, he said.
Weppler expects the public will have some concerns about traffic and parking issues from the proposed development.
“How we deal with the traffic is one of the big issues, but I believe it’s something we’ll able to work out,” he said.
McLinden said they take parking and traffic issues very seriously and plan to hire consultants with experience in traffic control and urban planning to help guide them in the development process.