Chicago Ridge hasn’t told businesses about plans to buy or move them
By Steve Metsch firstname.lastname@example.org April 17, 2014 4:08PM
Trucks enter and exit the Yellow Freight Terminal in Lynwood, Illinois, Friday June 29, 2012 I Scott Stewart~Sun-Times
Updated: May 22, 2014 6:09AM
Chicago Ridge has plans for the former Yellow Freight terminal that involves buying and possibly relocating existing businesses to create a TIF district that would include multiuse buildings, restaurants, a cinema, hotel, conference center and an indoor water park.
Though news of the 100-acre plan has been a popular topic at the Village Hall, some of those affected hadn’t heard about it.
Amro Abuhijleh is the manager at Elegant Furniture, a small store that opened in January in the 10100 block of South Harlem Avenue.
A reporter showed him a copy of Chicago Ridge’s plan to redevelop the site. The furniture store, a tavern, restaurant and other businesses in the strip mall would be replaced by a cinema.
“I’m very surprised. I’m not going to lie. It looks nice, but what about the rest of us? If this was an empty lot, why not go ahead and do it? But if they’re something already there, I assume they’ll have to come with their pockets full to buy out the businesses already here,” Abuhijleh said.
Mayor Chuck Tokar said Chicago Ridge “has not officially notified anybody, but some know about it.” He hopes some businesses decide to relocate in the village. “That’s entirely possible,” he said.
The Penske Truck Rental site just north of the strip mall is where a convention center and hotel would stand. Penske officials had no comment Friday.
“They’re a great business,” Tokar said. “We’d love to keep them in town. There’s probably potential properties [for Penske] in our industrial park.”
The Burger King and Blue Star Motel north of 103rd would vanish, along with a shuttered restaurant at 103rd and Harlem. A storage facility would be closed. So would a former grocery store just north of Southwest Highway. Slider fans can rest easy: The White Castle is not targeted.
But the Glendora House, the reception hall owned by Stanley and Mary Bielanski since 1991 and home to the village’s Centennial Gala on Saturday night, would be torn down to make room for a couple of stand-alone restaurants.
Bielanski and his daughter, Barbara, said Friday they have heard about the TIF. “People talk,” she said.
Stanley, who turns 70 on Monday, said he’s not worried about losing his business: “Why would we worry? They’ll buy it.”
Barbara would not disclose the sale price. Nor do they know if they will relocate the Glendora House.
The Ridge Creek Centre would be bordered by Harlem Avenue, the Tri-State Tollway and Southwest Highway. The village board on April 1 authorized the village attorney to work with TIF consultants Kane, McKenna and Associates Inc.
“They’re probably the preeminent TIF consultants in the state. They’re sharp on this stuff and helped us with three previous TIFs that we’ve had, two of which are closed,” Tokar said.
“They’ve been authorized to put together the properties that would encompass this TIF because it is big. It potentially is 100 acres, so it’s not just the 65 or so acres or 70 acres that Yellow Freight has. There’s another 30, 35 acres there north of Yellow Freight and some properties on Southwest Highway,” Tokar said.
They are piecing together a list of property owners who will eventually be approached by developers the village is seeking for the project, Tokar said Friday.
“This is just a possible plan. There’s a lot of things we can do with 100 acres,” Tokar said, noting a 206,000-square-foot music theater south of 103rd Street could be replaced by an indoor water park.
The final result “could be entirely different,” but Tokar hopes to keep a large fountain that now sits at the center of the property.
A perk would be the instant advertising for businesses in the development offered to motorists on the Tri-State Tollway who would have a clear view of the hotel and other elements.
“I’ve been getting phone calls from people looking to bring this vision to life,” he said. “We’re excited about the potential. We’re rolling on this. It could be a hell of a thing for this community.”