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The end of an EYESORE?

  • Written by Bob Rakow

 

EYESORE-1 The abandoned terminal sits on 75 acres and had become a weed-infested eyesore. Photos by Jeff Vorva.

Chicago Ridge mayor hopes truck terminal can be torn down soon

It’s been nearly five years since Yellow Freight EYESORE-2If Chicago Ridge Mayor Chuck Tokar (bottom right photo) has his way, the old Yellow Transport truck terminal behind him will be gone this time next year. abandoned its truck terminal in Chicago Ridge.

It left the 75-acre area with what village officials have publicly called an “eyesore’’ at 103rd Street and Harlem Avenue.
When asked recently when he would like to see the ugly steel and concrete come tumbling down, Chicago Ridge Mayor Chuck Tokar said “Yesterday.’’
The actual date of the demolition depends on who buys the property and their timeline but Tokar is crossing his fingers that by this time next year, it will be gone.
Redeveloping the Harlem Avenue terminal and some adjacent property – which extends all the way to the Tri State Tollway -- has been in the planning stages for the past five years but paperwork was signed last Friday which could signal the beginning of the end of the eyesore.
“I think it’s our No. 1 priority,” Tokar said.
Tokar envisions big things long range for the 75-acre terminal and 25 acres of adjacent land to the north and along Southwest Highway.
A mixed-use development that would feature family entertainment options, such as Dave & Buster’s; a multi-level, heated golf driving range similar to Top Golf in Wood Dale or an indoor skydiving facility similar to iFly in Naperville or Rosemont all are under consideration.
The development also would feature shops, restaurants and condominiums or townhomes, Tokar said. Hotels, a conference center or a venue for entertainment also are on the radar, he said.
“There’s so much available land there,” said Tokar, who added that it’s too early to nail down any specific plans for the property.
Tokar said the development could be modeled after the Burr Ridge Village Center, which is described as a mixed-use outdoor lifestyle center.
The village center features restaurants, retail shops, condominiums and a village green.
“We just don’t know yet,” Tokar said.
The village board last week took some important steps toward developing the land by approving an ordinance that designates the Yellow Freight property and the adjacent land as a tax increment financing district.
Trustees also approved an agreement with Yellow Roadway Corp. to purchase the property at 103rd Street and Harlem Avenue for $14 million. The contract is contingent on condition of the property, Tokar said.
“We have the next six months to determine if we want to go through with the contract or not,” the mayor said. “The village will need time to do its due diligence.”
The village’s next step is to have the property tested for contaminants.
“We do need to know the state of the ground underneath,” Tokar said Monday. “We’re not aware of anything, but you just don’t know what you’ve got.”
Testing Services Corp. of Carol Stream will perform soil borings and prepare and environmental report within the next several weeks, Tokar said.
While the 75-acre trucking terminal is mostly covered with concrete or asphalt, a garbage dump once existed adjacent to Stony Creek, so the possibility for contamination exists.
The 100-acre TIF would be bordered by Harlem Avenue, the Tri-State Tollway and Southwest Highway.
The shuttered Aldi, located at Harlem Avenue and Southwest Highway, and the long-closed Nikobee’s at the northeast corner of 103rd and Harlem, are included in the district. Additionally, Burger King, the Blue Star Motel, the Glendora House reception hall and a storage facility, all located north of 103rd Street, would be razed to make room for new development.
The TIF district would enable the village to float bonds that would finance construction of a mixed-use development at the Yellow site and throughout the district. In a TIF district, real estate tax revenues yielded by properties that increase in value are used to fund improvements within the district, or as an incentive to the developer.