The village of Riverside is the proud owner of a former dry-cleaning business, at least temporarily.
Capping a sometimes frustrating process that lasted almost a year, the village purchased the property at 2710 Harlem Ave. for $78,425, giving Riverside serious influence on how that and adjacent properties might be redeveloped.
“The village took this step so we could help guide future redevelopment of that corner, and that’s our goal,” said Village President Ben Sells.
Earlier this year, the Riverside Village Board created a business district along Harlem Avenue, including the vacant former TitleMax property at 2704 Harlem Ave., the former dry cleaning business, the strip mall at 2720 Harlem Ave. and the gas station at 539 Longcommon Road.
Village officials believe the area could become both an attractive gateway to the village and a source of sales tax revenue through assembling property and fostering commercial redevelopment.
The village board this summer will act to impose a 1-percent sales tax within the business district, which will serve as a source of revenue that can be used to pay for costs related to redevelopment, including site remediation, assembling property and public infrastructure improvements.
Riverside certainly will incur costs related to environmental remediation of the dry-cleaning property.
On May 30, the village announced it was seeking bids for removing materials containing asbestos from the building at 2710 Harlem Ave. and for the demolition of the building itself. Bids are due back to the village by June 12.
According to bid documents, floor tile, pipe insulation and roofing materials contain asbestos. Officials say they expect the asbestos removal to take place in late July and that demolition would follow within the next 60 days.
Riverside will seek bidders for a separate soil remediation project, which will take place once the building is demolished. Last year as part of its due diligence prior to purchasing the property, Riverside completed an environmental assessment of the site.
That study concluded that the soil south of the building was contaminated with dry cleaning chemicals to a depth of between 14 and 16 feet.
It was the presence of that contamination that slowed down the village’s acquisition of the property. In June 2016, the village agreed to pay $150,000 for the property and acquire it by the end of November 2016.
After the environmental testing, Riverside informed the owner the price would have to come down to accommodate the cost of soil remediation, stalling negotiations.
What comes next for the property after it’s cleaned up is unclear, though the village would prefer that it become part of a commercial development involving one or both of the adjacent properties.
The owner of the strip mall, Dr. Milad Nourahmadi last year submitted a proposal to the village to assemble all three properties north of Longcommon Road. However, those plans fizzled after the owner of 2704 Harlem Ave. indicated no interest in selling that property.
Nourahmadi bought the strip mall last year and renovated the main commercial space to house his Shining Smiles dental practice. He also spruced up the exterior of the building and repaved the parking lot.
A new monument sign and another sign on the south wall of the building will go up soon, said Nourahmadi, but the dental office is up and running. A grand opening is being planned for later in June, he said.