Sentiments were positive both Monday and Tuesday nights at the Palos Heights Administration Center, ending with the city council voting in favor of changing zoning on the old Ben Franklin site to make way for the Palos Place development.
Steps still remain before Palos Heights-based Brigid Capital Investments can begin demolishing the building at 12320 S. Harlem Avenue to begin construction both on that site and at 12312 S. 72nd Court Avenue.
“We don’t have a construction schedule at this time,” said Mike Coogan, owner of Brigid Capital. “We’re waiting for final approval. Everything hinges on that.”
Final engineering drawings have to be approved and the council still has to vote on the final planned unit development plan, Coogan said.
But even with more municipal boxes left to check off, Palos Heights resident Don Larson noted a “change of attitude” happening during Monday night’s public hearings in favor of the development, when he spoke before the council Tuesday night.
“This is something this town needs desperately to make the downtown vibrant again,” Larson said Tuesday night. “We’re on the same team, we’re working together and we have to make this happen. That’s the attitude we need to have going forward. This is the first developer coming into this city willing to put a lot of their own money down to build.”
The Palos Place development would combine retail and restaurants on the ground floor, along with office and medical facility space on the second floor and quality rental apartments on the third floor. Brigid will remain owners of the building and would rent out the spaces.
Ward 2 Alderman Jack Clifford congratulated Coogan Tuesday night and said several issues brought up in February had been resolved.
Two residents living on 72nd Court proposed Monday night closing off a part of the street as a cul-de-sac adjacent to a parking lot within the proposed development, to help quell excess traffic spilling off of Harlem Avenue. Coogan said he was in favor of the idea, but it would be up to the city to make that decision, since that is city-owned land. Members of the Plan Unit Development Commission agreed that it was a worthwhile action to pursue.
Larson also pointed out Tuesday night that as buildings have been built close to each other, adequate parking is becoming an issue for new developments.
Mayor Bob Straz said the city would have to consider plans to add parking as more possibilities for redevelopment arise.
“I hope there will be an ongoing emphasis to redevelop some of the older sections of the downtown area,” Straz said Tuesday night.
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