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Forum: Orland Park mayor defends downtown redevelopment

Updated: May 5, 2013 3:14PM



There are still quite a few misconceptions about Orland Park’s downtown redevelopment and the Ninety 7 Fifty on the Park apartments, so I want to provide some background and update everyone on the progress.

It’s my longtime belief that to be a truly dynamic community — one that offers a great quality of life, supports our commercial base and protects our property values — a community needs a walkable central area.

The 30-acre Metra Triangle property is planned to be a mixed-use, transit-oriented development that will include a mix of residential as well as commercial uses. The Ninety 7 Fifty on the Park building is the only luxury rental building planned. Additional housing will likely include townhouses, with preliminary plans including condominiums above businesses in two or three additional buildings.

We have always felt that a major residential component was needed as the first phase to spur interest in the redevelopment. Two market studies indicated strong demand for luxury apartments and a serious lack of this type of housing in the southwest suburbs. As of this writing, 63 signed leases before the building is open are above projections and indicate tremendous interest in the building.

While the developer had the resources to finance this project, the village board determined with the assistance of staff and financial experts that the best way to retain control and protect the village’s property was to provide seller financing. We developed a comprehensive financial plan with numerous payback provisions. We are confident that the village will recover its entire investment, and it will not impact property tax bills.

The downtown redevelopment solves numerous problems in this area — including flooding, traffic flow problems, removal of unsafe and unsightly buildings and accommodating more parking for commuters.

With sound planning, this project ties historic Old Orland with our village center blocks away and the walkable development on the east side of LaGrange Road. This project is our best and safest way to build a downtown of which we can all be proud.

Dan McLaughlin

Orland Park mayor

Improve neighborhoods to help schools

Our charity, Schools Count Corp., has been involved with many of the Chicago Public Schools being closed because of “empty seats.”

What I have found at a number of these schools is that those students who are in their seats are making terrific progress.

Until the powers that be realize that neighborhoods need to be revitalized, then those communities, citizens, schools and their students will be left to fend for themselves. How sad.

Dick Flesher

Mokena

Underage drinking

Are a few alcoholic drinks at age 18, OK? How about a sip or two at 16? Not so bad, is it? As long as there’s parental supervision, right?

Many may say yes, but in Evergreen Park many kids are abusing alcohol before they even enter high school. As a 22-year-old college student, I am now realizing that the small village in which I’ve always resided is a community in which kids are abusing their bodies and minds carelessly by underage drinking.

Having gone through the whirlwind of the teen years and high school fairly recently, I understand that during this time in a teen’s life there is nothing more important than socialization.

More social-based programs would be an excellent addition to my community and would discourage the downward spiral of teenage drinking that it’s experiencing.

Jillian Domina

Evergreen Park



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