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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tinley Park studng new 80th Avenue Metra station design

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Rebuilding Metra's fourth busiest stop, the 80th Avenue station in tinley Park, Ill.,, has been near the top of that suburb's wish list for years, according to the Chicago Tribune. More than $7 million in Metra, federal, state and local funding was budgeted for the station overhaul, and Tinley Park officials had a host of things they wanted done.

They hoped to make the station a 6,500-square-foot community center on the town's west side and envisioned it having a clock tower, a cafe, vendor space and other amenities. But this month they got a reality check when the architects hired to guide the project told the village it would cost more than $10 million to build everything on the wish list. So village officials have agreed to downsize the redesign and find more money, but they appeared divided about what role, if any, the facility would play.

Redesign proposals by Legat Architects, the Chicago-area firm that also designed Metra's Oak Park Avenue station in Tinley Park's historic downtown, included trimming 1,700 square feet from the kitchen, cafe and basement. That would bring construction costs closer to the $7.6 million available.

Ridership at the 80th Avenue station has surged to 3,000 a day since it opened in the 1980s.

Trustee Greg Hannon supported eliminating the kitchen, arguing that it was an unnecessary amenity. The station at 179th Street -- about 1.5 miles southwest of the Oak Park Avenue station -- is not part of a destination area, he said. Moreover, Hannon said, a food operation might draw diners away from the downtown. Both stations are on the Rock Island District line.

The award-winning Oak Park Avenue station, Tinley Park's third at that location since 1854, opened in 2003. The 3,800-square-foot facility resembles a medieval castle, with a three-story clock tower and an Arts-and-Crafts-style exterior.

Trustee Brian Maher urged other Village Board members to learn from design decisions at that station that resulted in an indoor-outdoor cafe that is too small to accommodate large crowds and loses seating in inclement weather.

"We're going to be kicking ourselves down the road if we've saved a few pennies and we have the same problems," he said.

Other trustees agreed, focusing on cost-cutting measures such as eliminating a proposed concierge area, simplifying windows and building detailing and replacing a geothermal heating and cooling system with a conventional one.

The resulting 4,800-square-foot facility -- still about 1,000 square feet larger than the station on Oak Park Avenue -- would retain the full-service kitchen by using the former concierge area space. Other amenities retained include an Internet cafe, a great hall and covered drop-off area.

Village officials settled on spending about $8.5 million after reviewing several construction designs by architect Ted Haug. Village Manager Scott Niehaus said the source of the additional funding is "to be determined."

Designs ranged from the top end with all the bells and whistles at $10.1 million to one with aggressive reductions at $6.8 million that called for eliminating three rooftop eyebrow windows.

The windows stayed, as did the three-story clock tower, although its elimination would have saved the village about $460,000.

Bidding to reconstruct the station -- which would include three enclosed, 900-square-foot warming shelters -- and raise the 800-foot platform roughly nine inches to conform to Americans with Disabilities Act standards could begin early next year.

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