New Lenox eyes further development along U.S. 30
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY firstname.lastname@example.org April 18, 2014 7:44PM
New Lenox hopes to make its Commons more visible to U.S. 30 traffic as it considers plans to further develop the U.S. 30 corridor. | File photo
Updated: May 21, 2014 6:38AM
While new businesses continue to spring up near the New Lenox Wal-Mart on U.S. 30, village officials are exploring options to redevelop the rest of that corridor, west to Interstate 80.
“Route 30 is our main drag. We want it to look good,” Mayor Tim Baldermann said.
The village hired the Orland Park consulting firm Ginkgo Planning and Design, Inc. last fall to develop a master plan to tie its Commons into the surrounding area along Nelson Road and U.S. 30.
“It may take years and years to come to fruition. We are looking at it in chunks and deciding what to do first,” he said.
One of the first things the village wants to do is make the Commons more visible to U.S. 30 traffic and tie that into a redevelopment plan for U.S. 30.
The Commons, which houses the performing arts pavilion, village hall, library and veterans memorial around a park area — the future police station will be there, too — sits south of the highway, behind businesses.
The master plan, expected to be completed and approved this summer, may include the extension of Independence Boulevard from the AMC movie theater into the Commons, and development of the vacant 18 acres between Nelson Road and the Commons, with restaurants, shops, hotels and a water feature, Baldermann said.
Another priority is the redevelopment of the area near U.S. 30 and Cedar Road.
Along U.S. 30, the mayor would like to see façade improvements, or structures torn down to make way for new businesses.
“We’ve held our own through the recession. Now that things are turning around and because New Lenox is doing so well, business are interested (in locating here),” he said.
Sales tax revenue from new businesses could be used to build a new Metra station near U.S. 30 and Cedar Road. The existing, historic train station would be preserved and a new facility could be built further east, Baldermann said, adding that he already has discussed this with Metra.
“I am extremely confident that something will happen this year,” he said of the village’s redevelopment efforts.
Another plan — focusing on improving aesthetics along the U.S. 30 corridor, from I-80 to the viaduct east of Cedar Road — was completed last year with the Chicago-based Houseal Lavigne consulting firm, community development director Robin Ellis said.
That focuses on streetscapes, landscapes, gateway signs, pedestrian connections, and elimination of curb cuts along U.S. 30, she said.
“The village board understands that we need to invest in the community in order for good things to continue to happen,” Baldermann said. “If we become partners in the redevelopment to clean up the town it will pay big dividends in the end.”