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Local News

Village of Downers Grove considers redevelopment of vacant Ogden Avenue gas station

DOWNERS GROVE – Developers of the new Starbucks on Ogden Avenue are looking for help from the village to redevelop the former gas station next door at 1201 Ogden Ave.

The village council heard the first reading of a redevelopment agreement with Insite Real Estate at its meeting July 8. If approved, Insite would build a 5,000-square-foot commercial building that would house two retail or restaurant tenants.

The village would reimburse Insite with TIF funds of up to $225,000 for the remediation of environmental concerns left by the gas station. Downers Grove staff said the environmental cleanup costs are estimated at $224,802.

Mayor Martin Tully and commissioners David Olsen and Robert Barnett expressed support for the plan.

“I think this is exactly the kind of thing the TIF is for,” Barnett said. “We’ve discussed (Ogden Avenue challenges) at nauseam for six to eight years now, about depth and environmental situations and street, physical elements. And those are the kinds of things that, in my mind, are exactly what the TIF is for.”

The council is expected to vote on the proposal at its July 15 meeting.

President and CEO of the Downers Grove Economic Development Corporation Michael Cassa said the agreement would require the project to be completed by Jan. 1, 2016. Insite also would be required to obtain a “no further remediation or removal” letter from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency following the cleanup work.

“Insite is actively marketing the site,” he said. “Several national and regional tenants have expressed interest in the lease space. The redevelopment of the property, especially since it is located at a signalized intersection, is very important for the economic vitality of the Ogden corridor. The redevelopment of a vacant dry cleaner site and closed gas station site, side by side, will not only have a positive impact on that portion of Ogden but will also make it easier for us to pursue other redevelopment projects in the entire Ogden Avenue corridor.”

Resident and Classic Cinemas owner Willis Johnson commented during the meeting that he was “puzzled” as to why the village would pay for the environmental remediation and not the current or previous owners. Mayor Martin Tully instructed the village attorney to gather a response as to whether that was a feasible possibility and report back at the next meeting.

Johnson said in some development projects he has headed, where environmental remediation was needed, the cost was taken into consideration by the property seller in a reduced sales price.

Michael Cassa added originally the gas station was a tenant on the property, and the actual owner lost the lot in foreclosure to a bank.

“I generally support this project,” Commissioner Olsen said. “I like the idea of the village facilitating economic development … but I think the questions that Mr. Johnson posed are good questions.”

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