Romeoville Route 53 redevelopment under way
By Cindy Wojdyla Cain email@example.com November 4, 2012 9:22PM
Romeoville Mayor John Noak (right) gets a hug from Carmen Rocha (second from right), a volunteer member of the Downtown Commission, during a groundbreaking ceremony for the Romeoville Athletic and Event Center near Terrace Lane and Town Hall Drive Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, in Romeoville. The estimated 70,000 square-foot facility has an anticipated completion date of December 2013. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 6, 2012 6:07AM
After years of planning, Romeoville is about to launch its biggest face-lift ever for the Route 53 corridor.
Ground was broken Friday morning for the first building — an $8 million athletic and events center — to be built by Harbour Contractors Inc. at the 9.5-acre village-owned Spartans’ Square site.
On Wednesday, the village board will vote on a demolition contract for Spartans’ Square, a strip mall that dates back to 1961, and the nearby former Crazy Rock building, which once housed a strip club.
Half of the Spartans’ Square site will come down immediately, the rest after June 1, when current tenant leases expire. The Crazy Rock building had too many health and safety violations to let it stand, Mayor John Noak said.
This major redevelopment follows years of smaller projects in the corridor that improved facades, unified lighting, installed landscaping islands and tore down vacant buildings, said Noak.
The work also included redevelopment of the former Village Hall site into a park and financial assistance with the construction of White Oak Library.
“It’s a lot of pieces of a very big puzzle coming together and now we’re starting to see the very exciting parts of it,” Noak said.
In addition to the new building and the demolitions, the village also is about to install new “guts” or stormwater systems to serve the Spartans’ Square site, Noak said.
Tax district financing
All of the work is being paid for with funds from the village’s tax increment financing district.
“It’s all paid for by property taxes generated from businesses in the corridor,” Noak said. “It’s what TIF districts are designed to do.”
The 70,000-square-foot center athletic and events center project is scheduled for completion in December 2013. It will include a gym with high school regulation basketball and volleyball courts, a soccer field, classroom space, five multipurpose rooms, two family changing rooms, an open area with artificial turf and concession areas and energy-efficient lighting.
“It will offer types of uses we do not have a facility for today,” Noak said.
Assistant Village Manager Dawn Caldwell said a private company will be hired to manage the building. That contract could come before the village board in December.
The Spartans’ Square redevelopment ultimately will include a 23,000-square-foot grocery store and two more outlots for retail and/or restaurants. Noak said the grocery store would be a type of smaller independent-style store that is gaining popularity with consumers.
Village officials are aggressively pursuing deals to fill the grocery opening, the outlots and the Crazy Rock site, he added.
Another part of the overall redevelopment plan is construction of a new Metra train station at 135th and New Avenue, which could begin next year, Noak said. Having a commuter station in the village would elevate property values and make Romeoville a more desirable place to live, Noak said.
“This Route 53 development project in its whole is ultimately about giving a higher quality of life to our residents,” he said.