Development Possible for Long-Vacant Alexander Lumber Lot
Mar 10, 2015 04:54PM ● Published by Steven Jack
It’s been nearly five years since the last serious proposal to develop the long-vacant Alexander Lumber property in downtown Oswego.
Now it appears as if a new development plan is in the works for the 2.3 acres adjacent to Hudson Crossing Park.
Oswego Village Administrator Steve Jones confirmed Tuesday the property is under contract with a yet-to-be-named developer who has preliminary plans for a mixed-used retail and office development. There is no closing set for the sale, as a discrepancy over right-of-way issues along state-owned Washington Street (Route 34) is ironed out, Jones said.
“This is all still very preliminary,” Jones said. “A survey done by Alexander Lumber a number of years back shows them owning more land than what the state of Illinois believes. That will have to be resolved.”
Whether the development will be one or two buildings depends on what comes of the negotiations over land ownership with the state, Jones said.
The development of the land, considered an eyesore by most Oswego residents, has been a source of controversy over the years. In 2010, developer Harold Oliver proposed unsuccessfully to build retail and residential units on the land. That planned called for a Tax Increment Finance District incentive to help fund infrastructure improvements for the $44 million project.
The latest proposal was brought up during Monday night’s Village President forum by candidate and village trustee Tony Giles, who said the developer would not seek incentives. Giles, who has stated his opposition to incentives to lure new businesses, used this as an example of a developer not needing an incentive to locate to Oswego.
Jones said Tuesday it’s still unclear whether the developer will seek incentives for the project.
“He still hasn’t submitted a formal proposal to the village,” Jones said.
Contacted Tuesday for clarification on his Monday night comments, Giles said he was told that information informally and not through any official communication from the village.
“What I’ve been told is that at this point there won’t be a request for incentives,” Giles said. “That doesn’t mean they won’t ask going forward or that they will be granted.”
One thing that is clear, however, is that for the development to move forward the village will need to complete about $900,000 in water, sewer, stormwater and roadway improvements in the area. Whether those improvements amount to an economic incentive, Jones said is a matter of opinion.
“I guess some people might say that’s an incentive and others might have a different opinion,” Jones said. “Either way, these are improvements that are already part of our capital improvement plans.”