Flossmoor buys vacant downtown land for development

  Flossmoor village board members Monday agreed
  to purchase a long-vacant lot in the downtown area.

  (Photo by Tom Houlihan/H-F Chronicle)
A 37,500 square-foot plot of land in downtown Flossmoor that has been vacant for more than a decade is now slated for development, with village officials considering businesses, high-end apartments, restaurants and community space as potential options.
The Flossmoor village board Monday approved an ordinance to budget $80,000 to buy the empty space on Flossmoor Road between Leavitt and Sterling avenues. The cost includes $70,000 for the land and estimated closing fees of $5,000 to $6,000.
Village Manager Bridget Wachtel said the land was recently set to go up for auction, but the bank that has owned it since around 2013 agreed to forgo an auction if the village purchased it and closed quickly.
“The high visibility of the property and its proximity to the center of the community are the two primary reasons the village wants to purchase this property and to control its use,” she said.
The five parcels of land from 2611 to 2633 Flossmoor Road have been appraised for a collective value of $150,000, Wachtel said. 
OP Pad Holdings I, LLC, accepted the village’s offer of $70,000 plus 5 percent commission. 
Mayor Paul Braun said the price is “very favorable” to the village and within fair market value.
“I’m comfortable in feeling that the price that we’re paying is rock bottom and well worth the price in terms of maintaining control of the property,” he said. 
Braun said before the land was vacant, it hosted various businesses that had been converted from small houses, such as a dog groomer and an insurance agency. 
In 2005, developer Chuck Bruti bought the individual businesses and planned to replace them with a mixed-use development that would include retail space on ground level and apartments above.
However, Bruti was unable to see his plans through because of the recession during the following years, and the land went into foreclosure, Braun said. 
“We’re going to be consulting with some developers we’ve been working with here in the village to see what might be the best use business-wise for the property,” Braun said. “We’re also going to be looking at the potential for community space such as a gathering area, a gazebo, and there’s some idea of having part of that as community gardens.”
He said village officials would be meeting with developers and seeking suggestions from the community over the next couple months.
“It’s got to be faster than what’s happened over the last seven years with the property, so I would say within the next 12 to 18 months we’re looking to have a firmer development plan,” Braun said.
In other news, the board approved amendments to the village municipal code on raffle regulations to accommodate different kinds of raffles, including Queen of Hearts raffles.
The changes include that there will be classes of raffle license based on the value of the prize award and that Class B and Class C license holders are required to provide a fidelity bond.
Class B and Class C license holders also can only receive these licenses once within a 24-month period, and the licenses are good for one year from the application date.
Additionally, applicants will be responsible for any cost of police, fire or public works services to support or respond to their raffle, and any disruption to traffic or threat to public safety will be considered reasons for revocation of the license. 
Fees for raffle licenses will be $25 for Class A, $75 for Class B and $100 for Class C.

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