Vine Street Station gets trustees' nod

Hinsdale trustees Tuesday approved the concept plan and special use permits for Vine Street Station, a proposed age-targeted housing development in the old Zion Lutheran School.

The project from developer Holladay Properties Services Midwest aims to convert the 107-year-old two-story school building at 125 S. Vine St. into 12 lifestyle condo units — two three-bedroom units and 10 two-bedroom units — with underground parking and an elevator.

Village board members previously expressed support for the plan as both a nice addition to the community’s housing mix and a welcome repurposing of a historic building. Village President Tom Cauley reiterated that sentiment Tuesday.

“We all like the project,” Cauley said. “We like when you take an existing building in town and refurbish it.”

The plan commission unanimously recommended the concept last month.

The units, which would range from about 1,200 to 1,600 square feet, are expected to sell for $600,000 to $900,000, and the .61-acre site would include a courtyard area for residents and a pocket park open to the public on the west side of the property.

Trustees, however, had a brief discussion on the use of 6,265 square feet of open space on the east side, which officials envisioned as available to all but not dedicated to the village as a park.

Drew Mitchell, vice president of Holladay Properties and a Hinsdale resident, said the plan for the open area has been intentionally left nebulous so as to develop a workable vision for both parties.

“We wanted to give discretion to the plan commission and to us as the applicant to identify a really thoughtful use of that space,” he said, adding that he regards it as a possible place of meditation for Zion Church-goers. “I do believe that the intention was to have it be quasi-public where it wouldn’t be restricted necessarily to the (building) residents.”

Cauley concurred with that understanding, acknowledging that not having a clear public/private designation was somewhat experimental.

“(The idea is) you just kind of keep it open space without naming it as a park, and let people use it if they want to,” Cauley said. “If a problem develops, we can address it prospectively.”

But Trustee Laurel Haarlow expressed concern about the vagueness.

“I think that is perhaps difficult to enforce if it’s not a little more clear-cut,” Haarlow said. “I wonder what kind of precedent that sets in terms of future properties that might be going for some kind of a (planned unit development.”

Trustee Luke Stifflear agreed, worried that a non-resident might be accused of trespassing and suggested that the “no trespassing” signs be prohibited as part of the final agreement with the developer.

Hinsdale police chief Brian King told trustees that in the absence of such a sign, people could not be cited for trespassing.

“I’d wait until it’s a problem,” King remarked, regarding potential future restrictions in the event the area is misused.

Mitchell said he’d rather see a welcome sign and that the building’s homeowner’s association will ultimately shape its utilization.

“It’s kind of a non-decision, which is always my favorite kind of decision,” Cauley quipped.

Holladay will next go before the plan commission again to seek approval of the project’s detailed plans.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean