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Metra Area Development Could Get Second Life

The Village Station project, which involved 236 acres of commercial and residential development next to the Laraway Metra lot, could find a new developer after New Lenox learned it will get help from the Regional Transit Authority.

After approving a 236-acre project featuring homes and retail along Laraway Road in 2005, New Lenox is hopeful the Village Station plans could be revived. 

On Tuesday, village planning administrator Robin Ellis learned that New Lenox's project was accepted through a Regional Transit Authority plan that aims to implement transit-oriented developments, which are essentially commercial and residential projects near transportation hubs. 

In this case, the Metra station off Laraway and Cedar roads is the hub, and the empty land surrounding it is what could be developed. 

"I'm excited," Ellis said. "Hopefully we'll see some results." 

The Village Station plan was adopted by the Village Board in March 2005, and later that year the Laraway Metra station opened. The plan called for a mix of housing types, including condos, townhomes and single-family homes, as well as about 50 acres of commercial development. 

The area covers empty land along Laraway Road, on both sides of Cedar, as well as 80 acres at the southeast corner of that intersection. 

"It was a really nice place," trustee Annette Bowden said, recalling the plans. "It had a lot of diversity."

Ellis said that in about 2008, a developer put a contract on the property but was later foreclosed on. Silver Cross owns the bulk of the property, Ellis said. 

Because of the housing market crash, the plans never went anywhere. The Metra lot usually only has a couple dozen cars parked there, and the land is growing plants and not homes. 

With this latest approval by the RTA, though, the village could receive help finding a new developer. The RTA program provides developer recruitment and solicitation. 

Michele V June 22, 2012 at 02:27 PM
Not only that, but on the occasions when we could have taken that line into Chicago, the schedule doesn't offer enough options on weekends, let alone during the week when commuters go to work. I think the project is a good idea eventually, but the RTA or Metra needs to spend the money on adding more trains to the schedule and build up the ridership first before expecting that people will want to live in a home next to a railroad track without any convenient trains to take.
Serge Storms June 22, 2012 at 03:09 PM
On top of the poor sevice and number of trains on SWS line. The RI New Lenox station is a G zone (178.00 monthly ticket) and the Laraway station is a H zone (192.25 monthly ticket) which is a 14 dollor differance.
Wilson Everbrite June 22, 2012 at 08:03 PM
So, how come we all know that a train that is slow, often late and runs only a few times a day is pretty much useless to consumers, but Metra can't grasp? Expand service or kill the line.
James Madison June 23, 2012 at 03:30 AM
So the taxpayer subsidizes Metra, then must subsidize the development, too? If it was a good idea, people would build there on their own. Let's get some existing houses sold, and storefronts leased, before the supply is increased by the government. Do these count as green jobs?
NoneYoBizness June 26, 2012 at 01:58 PM
"Because of the housing market crash, the plans never went anywhere." That is a bunch of bull ..... what killed the plan was Canadian National. Nobody wants to live south of the CN tracks!!

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