The aftermath of the destruction from the 1967 tornado that wrecked havoc in Oak Lawn is still being felt in neighboring Chicago Ridge.
As Oak Lawn rebounded from the tornado’s damage, much of the debris was dumped on the Chicago Ridge property that later became the Yellow Truck Terminal.
“Oak Lawn didn’t have any place to put the debris from that tornado,” Chicago Ridge Mayor Chuck Tokar said Tuesday during a state of the village address at Jenny’s Steak House in Worth. “They put a portion of it, well, they put most of it, next to Stony Creek on the south end of theYellow Freight property.”
Tokar’s remarks followed a state of the village given by Worth Mayor Werner. Both speeches were given during a meeting of the Chicago Ridge-Worth Chamber of Commerce.
“It’s all well and good for Yellow Freight because they just had to pave it over and pave it over and put concrete and asphalt on top of it, and it’s been fine.” Tokar said. “But now that they’re looking to put a development on it.”
Only a portion of the property—perhaps 15 acres—was used for refuse dumping, but the ground condition is not appropriate for new construction, Tokar said.
“That ground is pretty soft. It’s got windows, it’s got door frames, it’s good wood, it’s got bricks, it’s concrete, it’s got all kinds of stuff,” he said. “Building on that type of property is extremely expensive.”
That section of the property might be better used for a driving range or another outdoor use rather than undergoing the expenses associated with prepping the ground for development, the mayor said.
“I kind of like the idea of a mini Ravinia myself, but I don’t think we’ll get to that,” Tokar said. “At this time I am cautiously optimistic that we will see a development on that property. It would be a great thing for Chicago Ridge. It would be a great thing for the entire area around here—all the surrounding towns. “If we can draw people to our area, I think it benefits all of us.”
That won’t happen, however, until market research and soil borings are completed, which will take several more months, Tokar said.
Ideally, the village would like to turn the vacant truck terminal along with some adjacent property near 103rd Street and the shuttered Aldi near Harlem Avenue and Southwest Highway into a mixed-use development.
Yellow Freight abandoned its truck terminal about five years ago. Since that time, redeveloping the Harlem Avenue terminal 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.
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, Tokar has said.
The development also would feature shops, restaurants and condominiums or townhomes, Tokar said. Hotels, a conference center or a venue for entertainment also are under consideration, he said.