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Tinley to test interest in state-owned mental health center site with asbestos, abandoned sewage plant

The SouthtownStar - 12/16/2017

Dec. 16--Tinley Park has issued a "Request For Qualifications" from companies that might be interested in redeveloping the former Tinley Park Mental Health Center property.

Firms will have until Jan. 19 to provide the village background on their previous development experience, an outline of their idea of what could be done with the 280-acre site and their ability to acquire the property, the village said in a news release.

From that initial batch, the village will narrow the list of firms then have them prepare more detailed proposals, according to the release.

The center closed in 2012, while the adjacent Howe Developmental Center closed in 2009.

A village consultant, Farr Associates, studied the property and held a series of public meetings where various proposals were discussed that centered around putting homes on the site, with a smattering of retail. Located northwest of Harlem Avenue and 183rd Street, the state-owned land's location in Cook County is seen, according to Farr, as making it unlikely to be considered by potential developers for a large-scale commercial project due to higher property taxes.

"Hopefully, we get some creative, out-of-the-box proposals" for the site, Dave Niemeyer, village manager, said at a recent village meeting where the RFQ proposal was endorsed by trustees.

The effort by the consultant and the village's establishment in 2015 of a tax increment financing district that encompasses the health center property are intended to help the village create a master development plan for the site.

Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune

Tinley Park will ask companies if they are interested in buying and redeveloping the former Tinley Park Mental Health Center site. The hospital closed in 2012.

Tinley Park will ask companies if they are interested in buying and redeveloping the former Tinley Park Mental Health Center site. The hospital closed in 2012. (Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune)

Farr is expected to present that plan to the Village Board sometime during the first quarter of next year, according to Niemeyer.

The village said it wants to gauge potential interest by developers ahead of the state completing a re-appraisal of the land and again offering the village the opportunity to buy it.

Tinley Park in 2015 planned to pay the state the then asking price of $4.16 million for the property in a bid to gain greater control over what might be built there, then backed away from that idea.

"The Village hasn't made a decision on whether it will buy the property when the State offers it, but getting information on the types of ideas and land uses the development community is willing to build is one factor that will help us in making an informed decision on the potential acquisition," Mayor Jacob Vandenberg said in the news release.

Testing completed in 2014 revealed the property is rife with asbestos, and there is an abandoned sewage treatment plant, leaking underground storage tanks holding gasoline and other petroleum products, drums containing chemicals, and soil contaminated with mercury and lead.

An estimate for the village put the cost of cleaning the site and demolishing the many buildings on the property to get it ready for development at $12.4 million.


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