New Lenox nears U.S. 30 land purchase
BY SUSAN DEMAR LAFFERTY firstname.lastname@example.org June 6, 2014 10:24PM
Updated: July 9, 2014 6:30AM
The first big step in the redevelopment of U.S. 30 and Cedar Road in the heart of New Lenox could come soon, as trustees will discuss the purchase of four businesses at that main intersection at Monday’s village board meeting.
The village wants to buy the BP Amoco station on the northeast corner and the three adjacent businesses east of it — Hutchins dry cleaners, the vacant House of Hughes Restaurant and The Pit Stop bar. All will be demolished to make room for new businesses, Mayor Tim Baldermann said.
“We are working with a developer and want to get that demolished quickly,” he said, adding that village officials are talking to “three or four really nice, new businesses” that he could not yet identify.
“We want to move quickly on this. It’s been nothing but an eyesore. This is our main drag. It needs to be greatly improved,” Baldermann said.
He said the village wants to use sales tax revenue from the new businesses toward building a new Metra station farther east, while preserving the existing historic station.
Trustees will review ordinances authorizing the acquisition of the four buildings but likely will not vote on them until the June 23 village board meeting, Baldermann said.
New Lenox proposes to buy the gas station for $1.65 million, the cleaners for $309,000, the former restaurant for $505,000 and tavern for $375,000, according to the mayor, who said the total property is about three acres.
He said a private developer tried to get the sites but was unable to do so, enabling the village to acquire them for about $1 million less.
New Lenox has redeveloped the area around Wal-Mart a little farther east on U.S. 30, but there are blighted spots in the old downtown area that the village wants to address. Village officials are also talking to developers about other property along U.S. 30, the mayor said.
“Aggressive villages who want to make a difference have to get involved in the development process,” Baldermann said. “We don’t have to give ourselves an incentive.”
New Lenox is also completing a master plan for areas of U.S. 30 from Interstate 80 to the Commons, including 18 vacant acres west of the Commons.