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Mundelein’s $10.4 million village hall ahead of schedule

Mundelein's officials hope possible grant program spruce up building storefronts will bring them line with new $10.4 millivillage hall. |

Mundelein's officials hope a possible grant program to spruce up building storefronts will bring them in line with the new $10.4 million village hall. | Katlyn Smith/Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 28, 2014 3:16AM

Mundelein officials say a $10.4 million village hall is expected to open months ahead of schedule, as construction starts on an apartment building nearby.

Shunning its industrial roots downtown, Mundelein hopes the developments near the Metra station create a hub of residential and retail growth.

The village hall is finally taking shape after years of debate and planning. Crews have completed the brick shell and moved to the interior, a skeleton of steel studs, in the two-story, 32,000-square-foot building set to debut in June 2014.

Village staff will fill the first floor, while West Chester, Pa.-based Weston Solutions Inc. employees will occupy the second.

Weston inked a deal with Mundelein to oversee the project and market the area to other developers. The company will make lease payments that will help Mundelein recover the cost of construction.

The firm also is slated to bring 30 to 40 jobs to the village hall.

Cardinal Square, meanwhile, broke ground this month on a second building in its complex. Originally, developers planned condos, but are turning to 60 rental units as the for-sale market begins to recover.

“It all works together to create a synergy,” Trustee Terri Voss said. “There will be more people living in this space, which should help to attract more restaurants and retailers.”

Five vacant lots are available in the 10-acre village hall subdivision.

Ideally, Voss wants to see a mix of office and residential buildings with first-floor retail.

“That would be like the home-run,” she said.

Mundelein also has sunk money into street lighting, resurfaced Archer Avenue and added new sidewalks and landscaping — amenities that fetch developers, officials say.

In addition, a pedestrian bridge is in the works for Metra commuters to cross the Canadian National Railway tracks.

Mundelein hopes to secure federal grants to finance the “lion’s share” of the estimated $3 million to $4 million project by the end of the year, Village Administrator John Lobaito said.

The bridge will enable visitors to safely access the revitalized area on foot.

“We want to make the downtown a pedestrian-friendly environment,” Lobaito said.

The existing village hall is aging and small and lacks accessibility for people with disabilities, officials say.

“The building has just really outlived its usefulness,” Lobaito.

Trustees must decide what to do with the historic site, opening as Mundelein’s first fire station in the 1920s. Lobaito said one concept would tear down the building and put the land up for sale for redevelopment. Another option under review would require any buyer to preserve the façade.

Officials considered about a dozen properties in a search for a new facility that dragged on for decades. In 2005, the long-awaited village hall seemed within reach when Mundelein bought the Anatol Automation building on Archer Avenue for $5 million. But a proposal to relocate village headquarters there died.

Then in 2010, Mundelein purchased the current site, housing Sigma Services Corporation at the time, for $7 million. The food packaging company and, later, several other tenants moved into the village-owned property down the road on Archer.

Officials did not raise property taxes to the village to support construction. Instead, the funding sources came from cash on hand and reserves.

Weston hopes the building achieves a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design gold certification. The U.S. Green Building Council awards the designation to developers who use environmental-friendly materials and building methods. In a nod to sustainable construction, the Weston offices will feature a model of a green roof with vegetation covering part of one wall.

Officials touted the public-private partnership with Weston, who will pay about $2 million in rent over a seven-year agreement that comes with options to extend the pact.

One of the next steps will be hiring a landscape architect or other design firm to enhance an outdoor space pegged for a public plaza in front of the village hall. The spot could host the farmers market, One World Festival and other events, Voss said.

“We’re making this a place to visit,” she said.

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