A development consultant recommended retail stores and senior housing units to replace National Guard armory property at a North Riverside meeting Monday night.
The Guard has not given any indication it will close the base. However, Mayor Richard Scheck said he’d like to have a plan for the 40-acre site by Christmas, ignoring a federal lawsuit recently brought by Broadview in opposition to North Riverside’s annexation of the property last year.
“We’re going full speed ahead with this. We feel the property belongs to North Riverside, and we have the right to decide zoning controls,” Scheck said. “We want to be ready to have control of the property if the Guard ever does leave.”
James Paul with Oakbrook-based JPA Real Estate made his presentation at a joint meeting of the village Planning Commission and Zoning Board. Members of the Board of Trustees also took part in the meeting.
Paul said he thinks retail stores could go on the east portion of the property, and senior housing could be built on the west side.
“Maybe bring in something like a Costco or a Sam’s Club. You wouldn’t want something to compete with the Target nearby or the Best Buy,” Paul said. “Also, some type of senior housing, whether assisted living or unassisted, would be successful. Local seniors would have somewhere they could go and still stay in the area.”
Residential housing would not be attractive for the site, because of the added pressure it would put on schools, Paul said. Industrial or office development, soft now in this economy, would not work either, he said.
“Retail is the best use of this property,” Paul said. “The sales tax this property would generate would be substantial.”
The village gathers a portion of all sales tax spent at local retailers for the general fund.
Paul said the best way to control the zoning on the property would be to create a planned unit development, where any development would have to get board approvals for every plan and subsequent changes.
The presentation is just another notch toward setting the zoning of the property, said Scheck.
“I think that we’d like to establish an ordinance for the property by Christmas,” he said. “We want to have control of what happens with the property. If we can do this now, 10-20 years from now, someone can’t turn it something undesirable if the base ever closes.”
Whether North Riverside will be able to hand onto the property is a matter of debate. Broadview sued North Riverside in Cook County Circuit Court on Aug. 8 to void the annexation, claiming that North Riverside misrepresented Broadview’s claim to the property. Broadview says it has a small border to the armory land.
Broadview claims the 40 acres, bounded by Cermak Road on the south, the Illinois Central Gulf Railroad Line on the north, First Avenue on the east and Ninth Avenue on the west, was incorporated in the village before it became the armory.
The case has now been moved to the United States District Court, Eastern Division, at the request of the federal government.
Assistant United States Attorney Jack Donatelli said the case was moved because the Army Corps of Engineers, which approved the annexation, was named as a defendant. He said there has been no further movement on the case, now before Judge Wayne Andersen,
Broadview claims the Army Corps of Engineers did not follow proper annexation request procedure to check if there was any opposition to North Riverside’s claim. The Corps seems to agree. An executive with the Corps wrote a letter to Scheck in July stating that he would not have approved the annexation if he had known about Broadview’s opposition.
The members of the North Riverside Planning Commission and Zoning Board said they don’t know enough about the lawsuit to comment. They said they will now digest the information presented by Paul, and reconvene at an undetermined later date for more discussion.
“The meeting was very informative,” said John Beresheim, chairman of the Planning Commission. “This definitely gives us a little variety of what we could do with the property.”