The long-dormant water pumping facility at 454 Northgate Court in Riverside is destined to be demolished to make way for a pair of luxury homes after the Riverside Village Board voted 5 to 0 on May 15 to approve a sales contract for the property.

Vintage 2 LLC, whose parent company is the Arnold Wesley real estate development firm, will buy the approximately 17,000-square-foot parcel for $296,000 and return it to the tax rolls for the first time in its history. 

“We’re definitely going to bring the thunder on this one,” said Brian Welch, chief operating officer for Arnold Wesley. “I’m really excited about coming into Riverside. It’s a great market, and we’re going to bring something a little different.”

Village Manager Peter Scalera last week said that the village will seek to close on the property within 30 days. At the same time, Welch and the village will be working to prepare for a Planning and Zoning Commission hearing to consider subdividing the 125-by-135-foot lot into two 62.5-foot wide parcels fronting Northgate Court.

Welch said that his company plans on demolishing the former pump house and building two 4,800-square-foot Tudor-style homes, each featuring five bedrooms and 4.5 baths, 9-foot deep basements, luxury kitchens and attached garages.

The company plans to list the homes, said Welch, at around $1 million apiece.

“They’re going to be gorgeous,” said Welch.

Meanwhile, Lawrence Bakalich, who has lived across the street from the village-owned property since 1967, said he’s glad the new homes are on the way. Since the water pumping facility was taken offline, the building has deteriorated and the grounds aren’t as well-kept as they once were.

“Everything seems to be on the upside,” said Bakalich, of the land sale. “We’ll have to tolerate some building time, but hopefully it will enhance our property values.

“We originally loved the rural look of the building, but it’s now lost that rural look, so it will be nothing but an enhancement.”

It will be Arnold Wesley’s first crack at new development. The firm, which was formed in 2010 has concentrated on residential rehab of bank-owned properties as a result of foreclosure.

Starting principally in Berwyn, the firm last year began buying properties in Brookfield and other west suburbs, completing extensive and often high-end renovations. In April, the company bought the home at 18 N. Herbert Road in Riverside with an eye on another extensive rehab there.

But the Northgate Court site marks a new direction for the firm.

“We bit off a lot on this one,” said Welch.

 While it will take some weeks to close on the property and get the subdivision hearing in front of the Planning and Zoning Commission, Scalera said that the new homes could break ground later this summer.

In addition to demolishing the building, Scalera said there remains work to do removing pipes that used to connect the pump house with the old water tower. There are also numerous pipes (some as big as 15 or 20 inches in diameter) in the basement of the pump house which would have to be removed prior to demolition.

Finally, Scalera said that the property would require some sort of lead abatement. The second floor of the property served as a shooting range for a gun club dating back to the 1940s and was used in a similar capacity at one time by the police department.

The property’s principal use was as a municipal water pumping station and home to a metal water tower from the 1930s until 2001, when the tower became obsolete with the construction of a new high-capacity standpipe in North Riverside.

The water tower remained standing until June 2004, when it was dismantled. Since that time, the pumping station property has been used for storage of village records, recreation equipment and vehicles. The yard has been used as a storage area for the Public Works Department.

In 2007, the village board decided to sell the property and obtained an appraisal that valued the land at $700,000. After the real estate crash, the village took it off the market in 2010 and got the property re-appraised. In 2011, the property’s value had dropped to $370,000, and it wasn’t until March 2013 that the board decided to sell the property again.

“[Welch] is eager to move it along,” said Scalera. “We’ll do whatever we can do to make it possible for him to break ground this year.”