After months of discussion based on drawings and renderings, the Garfield Crossing project got the Village of Hinsdale Board of Trustees votes it needed Tuesday night to become a reality.
Village trustees voted unanimously to approve the site plan and exterior appearance of the two-story mixed-use development set to occupy the vacant property at the southwest corner of 1st and Garfield streets, but only after a heated discussion about a special agreement that was tied to the approval regarding the village's ability to investigate the development an alley behind the building.
“We’re very excited to get this project up and going,” property owner Clay Naccarato said of the Garfield Crossing development after the board’s vote.
Naccarato said next up is getting the needed permits for construction, which is slated to begin soon after nearby Hinsdale Middle School lets out for the summer on June 6.
Village President Tom Cauley commended Naccarato for being a “model developer” and going “above and beyond” to accommodate the village’s recommendations for the development.
“This is really a monumental event in our village,” Cauley said. “This property has sat empty for 10 years and has been in litigation for about as many years. We now have a project we’re all happy with.
“We have the best we can do for our village with this option and I’m very happy with the way this all worked out.”
Though all six trustees voted to approve, two spoke against a licensing agreement attached to the approval that gives the village time after tenants begin moving into Garfield Crossing to investigate the option of purchasing land behind the building and constructing an alley between Garfield and Washington Street for delivery trucks and office-space visitors if the new development has a significant, negative impact on 1st Street traffic.
Before the meeting, Garfield Crossing representatives and village officials agreed to an 18-month license, but there was disagreement Tuesday on when the license should go into effect. Naccarato’s team wanted it to go into effect Tuesday night, while Cauley said he thought it should go into effect when tenants start moving in.
At one point, Cauley asked Naccarato during the meeting if the property owner was willing to sacrifice the entire project over the effective date of the license. Before Naccarato gave an answer, trustee Bob Saigh cut in and said he was “bothered” by the license agreement requirement, especially since building the alley was determined by the board’s Environment and Public Services (EPS) Committee to be an unrealistic option based on its high cost and the Hinsdale Chamber of Commerce's unwillingness to sell to the village needed property.
“This is an encumbrance on the applicant. I think this is wrong,” Saigh said. “I’m very concerned about the kind of message this might be sending about the way we do business in Hinsdale.”
Laura LaPlaca, the EPS Committee chair, also said she did not support attaching the licensing agreement to Tuesday night’s approval and that jeopardizing the entire project over it was “irresponsible.”
Along with Cauley, trustees Kimberley Angelo, Chris Elder, Bill Haarlow and Jerry Hughes spoke in support of the licensing agreement.
“To merely preserve the possibility of looking at something in the future based on what that future brings seems completely reasonable to me,” Haarlow said.
In the end, Saigh and LaPlaca voted to approve site plan and exterior appearance measures that came with a compromised license agreement that will go into effect after occupation permits are pulled, but only for 12 months.
Architect David Kennedy of PPK Architects, the firm that designed the Garfield Crossing development, pegged construction as a 10-month project. That would mean it would be wrapped up in spring 2014, though additional interior work inside the various retail and office spaces inside is not included in that estimate.
There are plenty of ways to keep up on Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills news: