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Downtown Revitalization Project
ABOUT. The Downtown Revitalization Project is a set of public improvements designed to enhance the viability and pedestrian safety of Downtown Clarendon Hills. The project includes four components: 1) Prospect & Burlington Avenue Improvements; 2) Prospect Avenue Railroad Crossing Improvements; 3) Inbound & Outbound Train Station Improvements; and 4) Burlington Plaza and Alley. Over the past several years the Village has applied for and been awarded approximately $8 million from the Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program, the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program, the West Suburban Mass Transit District, the Illinois Commerce Commission Grade Crossing Protection Fund, and the Commuter Rail Division of the Regional Transportation Authority. These funds covered close to 66% of the project's cost.
The Downtown Revitalization Project started on January 6, 2020, and was completed in the Fall 2022.
TRAIN STATION IMPROVEMENTS. On January 6, 2020, the Village hosted a groundbreaking ceremony in the south lot commuter parking lot. Shortly thereafter the village razed its old station, and in its place began to develop a cost-conscious commuter station that will offer more openness and amenities, improve safety, and better integrate with the surrounding landscape. The new station, designed by Legat Architects, includes canopies, enclosed waiting, and covered bike shelters. Additionally, the station’s parallel alignment to the tracks will provide much better views to approaching trains.
The design of the new station stems back to the community’s 2014 Downtown Master Plan, which explored land use and design to promote economic development. “We didn’t want to overstate the design of the station so that it took attention away from key buildings such as the village hall across the street,” said Mike Abraham, Chairman of the Village’s Downtown Design Review Commission. “At the same time, we did want the station to be a welcoming entry point to the village.” The resulting design, approved by both the village board and the Downtown Design Commission, not only kept costs in check but also supports Clarendon Hills’ focus on outdoors and sustainability. It has plenty of outdoor waiting options, as well as a green roof and rain gardens to reduce pollution-causing stormwater runoff.
Whereas the previous station was tucked away, the reoriented station better relates to downtown Clarendon Hills across the tracks. Community members will have views of the station from the village hall and surrounding Prospect Avenue, Burlington Avenue, and Ann Street. The pavilion-like design uses standard pieces of glass to keep costs down. Random vertical wood boards placed outside the glass create a more natural look, provide morning and evening solar shading, and imply a sense of motion. Unlike the classical brick train station one sees up and down the lines, Clarendon Hills’ new station is more subdued and ties into the landscaping. Structural systems were designed with the intent to prefabricate and replicate. Prefabrication, or manufacturing components before reaching the site, reduces material and labor costs, plus speeds construction and therefore limits the number of flagmen needed on site.
STREETSCAPE IMPROVEMENTS. The 2014 Downtown Master Plan (DTMP) a component of the Village’s Comprehensive Plan, listed multiple village initiatives addressing land use, design and economic development issues and goals set for the downtown area. One of the Plan initiatives established the following as a priority: "Improve safe pedestrian access to transit by improving pedestrian crossings over streets and the BNSF railroad at South Prospect Avenue." The plan also identified areas for future public plazas and linear parks, designed within a common theme/brand. Soon after the DTMP was adopted, the Village developed streetscape improvement plans for the streets adjacent to the commuter station property, primarily along Burlington Avenue and Prospect Avenues. With these shovel-ready plans in hand, the Village began applying for multiple federal, state and local grants to fund these improvements.
The purpose of this project was to enhance pedestrian safety, improve traffic mobility, and install aesthetic features and landscaping throughout the downtown area of the Village of Clarendon Hills. This was achieved by shortening crossing widths by incorporating bump-outs, new crosswalk striping, adding drop off locations at the Metra Station, a new lane configuration along Prospect Avenue, and reconfiguring the intersections of Golf Avenue/Burlington Avenue into a single "T" intersection. The project of work consists of the following improvements:
- Prospect Avenue Improvements. There was new land configurations created along Prospect Avenue. At the railroad crossing, the reconfiguration of the north and southbound lanes allows a shared bike lane and a northbound left turn only lane. North of Burlington, there will be two travel lanes, both being 16.8 foot shared bike lanes. Curb bump-outs will be constructed that will allow for shorts crosswalks at all legs of the intersections.
- Burlington Avenue Improvements. The intersection of Golf Avenue and Burlington Avenue became a "T" intersection, closing off the portion of Golf Avenue that curved onto Burlington Avenue. Angle parking was created along the east side of Golf Avenue.
- Streetscape Amenities. Brick pavers were installed at the crosswalks to delineate the pedestrian crossing locations. New bike racks were installed for both the shoppers as well as commuters. Additional landscaping enhanced the entire area.
- Railroad Crossing Improvements. New railroad gates for vehicles and pedestrians will be installed in Spring of 2023 to provide additional protection at the Prospect Avenue at-grade railroad crossing.
On August 16, 2018, the Village Board authorized an agreement with Terra Engineering, LTD for Engineering Services for the Prospect and Burlington Avenue Streetscape Improvement Project.
RAILROAD CROSSING IMPROVEMENTS. On December 13, 2017, the Village received notice that it would be the recipient from the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) Grade Crossing Protection Fund (GCPF) for the installation of new railroad crossing gates at Prospect Avenue. Historically similar gate crossing projects have cost between $500,000 and $1,000,000. Under the GCPF program, the municipal benefactor would be responsible for 10% of the construction cost. Phase I of the new gate system installation was substantially completed in February 2021. Phase I included relocation of the BNSF mechanical shed, removal of old gate system, installation of new pedestrian gates, installation of new crossing alert lighting, and installation of new vehicular entry gates. Phase II will include installation of the vehicular exit gates in Spring 2023. Coordination between the Village, the Illinois Commerce Commission and BNSF Railway is underway.
BURLINGTON PLAZA & ALLEY IMPROVEMENTS. The Downtown Master Plan established the Village’s desire to provide a public plaza at the southwest corner of Burlington Avenue and Prospect Avenue. In early 2020, the Village approved a redevelopment agreement with the new owners of the building, formerly known as The Arts Building, at 211 Burlington. Part of this agreement was that the Village would relocate the north-south portion of the Burlington alley between 15 to 20 feet further east to accommodate an outdoor eating area for the proposed distillery. During the 2021 budget review process, the Village Board set aside funds to reconstruct the southern Burlington Avenue public alley and design and redevelop the public land east of the Tierra Distillery for a public plaza. Legat Architects was retained to design and manage this project which was completed in 2022.
On March 9, 2021, the DTDRC reviewed multiple design concept plans developed by Legat Architects and Village Staff. On March 30, 2021, the DTDRC was presented an updated plan revised to incorporate ideas and directions expressed during the previous March 9, 2021 meeting. On April 5, 2021, directed staff to prepare construction plans based upon the DTDRC endorsed plans.