Meijer outlots may be developed for restaurant, retail use

Three outlots near Flossmoor’s Meijer superstore could be developed for commercial use in the next year.

Village Manager Bridget Wachtel said Thursday that prospective developers have expressed interest in the outlots and have had preliminary meetings with village officials.

Wachtel made the announcement at the annual meeting of the Joint Review Board for Flossmoor’s tax increment financing district (TIF). The board is made up of representatives of local governmental units – including Homewood-Flossmoor High School, Flossmoor District 161, Homewood-Flossmoor Park District, Prairie State College and the Flossmoor Public Library – and supervises the TIF, a financial tool used to develop the Meijer store site.

Meijer plans to develop five outlots west and south of its store at Crawford Avenue and Vollmer Road. The 192,000-square-foot store opened in June.

Wachtel said developers are currently interested in lots on either side of the Vollmer retention pond and just north of the BP gas station at the Crawford-Vollmer intersection.

The lot east of the retention pond would likely have one tenant, she said, and three tenants may locate in the outlot between the pond and BP. All those tenants would probably be retail establishments.

Wachtel said the lot north of the BP station is being considered for a “fast casual dining” location. A developer for that property is expected to appear before Flossmoor’s plan commission in the coming weeks, she said.

Meijer owns the outlots and developers need to work out leasing or purchase arrangements before any project can move forward. Any projects on the Meijer site must be approved by Flossmoor’s plan commission and village board.

“No one can come in and just get a building permit” for a project on Meijer’s property, Wachtel said.

Flossmoor has been purchasing vacant lots in the area between Central Park Avenue and the Meijer site. The village wants to acquire four more pieces of property – two north of 198th Street and two south of it – through a Cook County program. In September, the village board hired an attorney to work with the county to gain title to the parcels. Village officials say current owners of the parcels all owe back taxes on the properties.

Wachtel said Flossmoor officials have already had discussions with developers who are interested in pursuing projects on village-owned land. The village is working with Houseal Lavigne Associates, a Chicago-based consulting firm that specializes in municipal economic development. The Flossmoor board last December approved a contract with the firm, which is providing advisory services aimed at attracting the right developers to the village’s property.

Financing through the TIF was used to improve the Meijer property and village-owned land. Meijer owns 39 acres of the former TIF area and the village owns 26 acres and plans to acquire more property that can be developed for commercial use.

The TIF district’s 23-year lifespan officially ended last December. However, there is still about $1.4 million in a TIF account and that’s one reason why the Joint Review Board met Thursday. Wachtel said the village plans to spend the remainder of the money to purchase more land and fund road and water main projects, demolition and other services related to the development of a commercial strip along Vollmer.

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