Demolition of the former Henninger Pharmacy could begin as early as April 1, with excavation for a new four-story commercial/condominium development following immediately thereafter.

Developer Harry Liesenfelt said that as of March 24, he has the village’s permission to begin removing trees from the parkway on East Burlington Street adjacent to the site. Crews will also remove plant material from the Longcommon Road parkway, although village forestry employees will salvage a couple of specimens for use elsewhere.

Village Forester Michael Collins said that his crews will try to save an American filbert and witch hazel plant from the Longcommon Road parkway and replant them near the village’s Public Works building.

Developers already have a landscape plan combining trees, shrubs and perennial plants, which has been approved by the village’s Landscape Advisory Commission, that will be executed once construction is complete.

Once trees are removed, construction fencing will be erected around the site and demolition will begin. According to project manager Mike Candela of Provencal Development Group, demolition will take anywhere from two to five days. After that, excavation for the development’s underground parking will begin, setting in motion a construction effort expected to take approximately 18 months.

Candela said units should be ready for occupancy by the fall of 2007. According to Village President Harold J. Wiaduck Jr., who addressed a gathering of local leaders Saturday morning at the village’s annual Community Leaders Breakfast at the Riverside Golf Club, some 14 of the development’s 22 condo units have been reserved and negotiations continue between the developers and “a major retail tenant” for the main commercial space.

Liesenfelt said all that was standing in the way of demolition beginning was the village receiving a copy of the Cook County demolition permit.

“Disconnects for water, gas and electric are already in motion,” Liesenfelt said.

During construction, at least a portion of the Burlington Street sidewalk adjacent to the construction site will be closed to pedestrian traffic. Candela said that the sidewalk along Longcommon Road is expected to remain open.

Arcade Building work to begin late summer

Meanwhile, across the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe railroad tracks just a block away, another developer is finalizing construction plans for the historic Arcade Building at 1 Riverside Road.

In the works for a year, the Wexford Development Group plans on restoring the exterior of the 1871 building, which was the first commercial building constructed in the village.

All three floors of the original building’s interior will be gutted, while a later addition will be demolished to make way for a new three-story addition housing enclosed parking and nine condominium units.

Donald Price, president of Wexford Development Group, which owns the Arcade Building, announced during the village’s leaders breakfast Saturday that all tenants will have to vacate the building during construction, which is expected to last between nine months and one year.

During the next 60 days, Price said he will finalize building plans with the expectation that construction would begin by August.

Since the building will be closed for up to a year, tenants will need to find either temporary homes or new homes.

Scott Zimmer, who operates the building’s major tenant, Chew Chew Cafe, said that while he’s interested in reopening the restaurant in an expanded space at 1 Riverside Road when construction is complete, he’s not seeking a temporary home for his 10-year old business. Instead, Zimmer said that he’ll open a new restaurant by mid-summer.

“The idea of opening a second, temporary location is not an option,” Zimmer said.

Zimmer said two communities were “actively pursuing” him to open a restaurant, and using TIF money as a sweetener. In addition, he said he’s also had interest from private interests.

“There are a lot of options I’m reviewing, and I’m being cautious before making a final decision,” Zimmer said.

By the time construction is complete at the Arcade Building, Zimmer said it’s possible he would have two other locations in operation, either inside or outside of Riverside.

David Moreau, who has operated Grumpy’s in the corner space at Riverside Road and East Quincy Street, said he has one or two possible spots for relocation.

Moreau also expressed interest in returning to his longtime Arcade Building home, and added support for Price’s suggestion Saturday that the corner space be expanded to the north.

“We’ve always thought about doing that kind of thing,” Moreau said.

Price said that tenants likely would not be required to leave the building until just a couple of weeks before construction began. Discussions continue with tenants on that topic, he said.