The owner of a hot dog stand chain and a River Grove barbecue restaurant wants to resuscitate a long-dormant commercial development at the corner of Cermak Road and Desplaines Avenue in North Riverside.
Robert Houpy, who owns Lucky Dog and Russell’s Barbecue, has submitted plans to the village to completely make over and expand a never-completed strip mall at 7929 Cermak Road, which has sat vacant since it was given a new façade and divided into several storefronts in 2007.
Plans on file with the village’s building department indicate the plan is to strip the building of its stucco façade of the roughly 6,250-square-foot building and construct a 4,373-square-foot addition to the west.
The resulting 10,774-square-foot structure, which would be faced with brick and concrete block instead of synthetic stucco, would be divided into nine storefront units ranging in size from about 1,050 to 1,300 square feet. A 42-space parking lot would occupy what is now bare earth in front of the building and arc around it to the west.
The plan would trigger the need for at least one zoning variance, but Houpy has not yet applied for any variances. That’s because the site plan for the project is being reviewed by the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Houpy would like to expand a curb cut on Desplaines Avenue next to the alley that runs behind the property. That would allow people to use the alley to access the strip mall from Desplaines Avenue and allow for a separate exit lane onto Desplaines.
He also would like a new curb cut on Keystone Avenue just south of Cermak Road to allow access there. One of the two curb cuts on Cermak Road itself would also remain, according to the plans.
Depending on what IDOT will allow, the plan could change somewhat. Attempts to reach Houpy were not successful.
A company called Sixteenth Street Holdings, a Berwyn-based LLC, of which Houpy is an officer, bought the derelict property in August 2014 for $605,000 and took out a $1.6 million construction loan that same day.
The company purchased the property from a North Riverside man who bought it at auction in 2012 for $317,000.
For at least five years before that, the building sat half-finished and in foreclosure after a previous owner failed in a bid to turn the former truck repair facility into a bank-anchored retail strip mall.
A Berwyn real estate broker bought the North Riverside Garage property in 2005 for $715,000 and spent another $250,000 to remove contaminated soil from the site. A brick building, that was built in 1921 prior to the village’s incorporation and served as a hardware store and then a gas station, was demolished as part of the plan to convert the property to a strip mall.
But the conversion of the existing garage building to a strip mall didn’t begin until late in 2007. Two years later, the property was in foreclosure, with the bank taking possession in 2010.