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Chicago Ridge finds buyer for abandoned truck terminal but testing must be done before development

  • Written by Bob Rakow

A developer with experience building the biggest commercial properties in Chicago Ridge is ready to take on his next challenge in the village.

Ken Tucker of Structured Development, located in Chicago, is the point person for the potential development of the abandoned Yellow Freight trucking terminal.

Tucker was instrumental in the development of both Chicago Ridge Mall and Chicago Ridge Commons, Mayor Chuck Tokar said.

“He’s got the Ridge experience,” Tokar said.

But specific plans for and area on Harlem Avenue village officials have called an “eyesore’’ have not been made public and there needs to be testing for contamination done before moving forward with any plans.

Yellow Freight abandoned its truck terminal about five years ago. Since that time, redeveloping the Harlem Avenue terminal and some adjacent property has been the village’s top priority.

To that end, the village recently partnered with Structured Development to create the Ridge Creek Joint Venture Partnership.

The village purchased the property from Yellow Roadway Corp. for $14 million. The purchase contract is contingent on the condition of the property, Tokar said.

The village board also approved an ordinance that designates the Yellow Freight property and the adjacent land as a tax increment financing district. The TIF district is bordered by Harlem Avenue, the Tri-State Tollway and Southwest Highway.

But bringing a developer into the mix is an important step, Tokar said.

“The village is no longer the one holding the contract of purchase,” he said.

Structured Development will spend the next several months performing due diligence on the property, including taking soil samples and conducting detailed market studies.

Testing Services Corp. of Carol Stream is performing soil borings and will prepare an 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.

Additionally, Tokar recently learned that some of the land south of 103rd Street was used as a dumping ground for debris that accumulated after the 1967 tornado.

But the mayor is encouraged by Tucker’s belief that the terminal and adjacent land can be developed.

Marketing studies will help determine the businesses best suited for the development, but Tokar believes that the steady stream of traffic on the tollway—estimated at 270,000 cars daily—is the key selling point.

“You just don’t know what is going to be appealing to the market,” Tokar said.

But he envisions big things for the parcel.

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 and Rosemont all are under consideration.

The development also could feature shops, restaurants and condominiums or townhomes, Tokar said. Hotels, a conference center or an venue for entertainment also are under consideration, he said.

The shuttered Aldi, located at Harlem Avenue and Southwest Highway, and the long-closed Nikobee’s restaurant 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 enables 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.