A NEW BEGINNING
The Tinley Park Mental Health Center was built in 1958 and operated by the State of Illinois until its closure in 2012. In 2014 when the Village of Tinley Park was offered the opportunity to buy the 280-acre from the State of Illinois the Village realized it needed to do some homework. The village issued an RFP for a master plan and economic feasibility study and selected a consultant team led by Farr Associates with SB Friedman providing economic analysis.
The work advanced in two phases. An initial fast-tracked phase took place with a veteran Mayor and Council (all but one elected official in place had been in office for 25 years) to prepare a development strategy and accompanying master plans illustrating viable land use combinations. Three master plan alternatives proposed a mix of land uses and open spaces organized into distinct areas: a Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) adjacent to the 80th Street Metra station, two to three additional neighborhoods one with a neighborhood commercial center facing Harlem, and a commercial and jobs district fronting 183rd Street. The land use was overwhelmingly residential due to the high commercial property taxes in Cook County (Tinley Park straddles the Cook-Will county line) and featured a wide range of housing types, including smaller scale, the so-called “missing middle.”
Open spaces offering distinctly different amenities—pocket parks, versus linear parks, versus a lake—further differentiated the three alternative schemes.
The master plan studies revealed some surprising insights: 1) This 280-acre site was the largest TOD redevelopment site in the metro Chicago area, 2) that the plan could enhance Tinley Park’s residential desirability by introducing new lifestyle and housing choices to attract new families, and 3) regardless of what plan was selected and when the land was purchased from the State, that long-term Village involvement would be essential to the project’s success. Without selecting a preferred alternative. the mayor and council approved of the plans and the idea of buying the site from the State. However, negotiations with the State of Illinois about the land purchase were held up on the sale price and the multi-million dollar cost of environmental cleanup. A change of Mayor and Council triggered a project reset and a reiteration of the planning process. In the end the new leadership seemed to come to the same conclusion as before that it was in the best interests for the Village to control its fate by controlling this key parcel of land. A developer RFP was issued in 2018 to test interest in the site. Negotiations with the state of Illinois are ongoing.
Client: Village of Tinley Park
Location: Tinley Park, IL