Village officials herald signs of growth in Mundelein

The former Dominick's building at Midlothian Road and Route 176 may still be empty, but there are other signs of growth in Mundelein, according to John Lobaito, village administrator.

Restaurants have opened or expanded, a new fitness center just opened and housing projects once in foreclosure are back on track, he said.

And while Bank of America will close its branch office in Mundelein in September, the Mundelein Community Bank broke ground in June for a new branch in the center of town at 169 N. Lake Street.

Officials have said that will help with the redevelopment of the blighted intersection of Lake and Division streets.

"The bank has bought into Mundelein's vision for the downtown – so they are showing their confidence in what we're doing by investing in the downtown and in the community," Lobaito said.

The branch is expected to open in December. The main branch is at Midlothian and Route 176.

Several housing projects ended up in foreclosure during the recession, but new developers are resuscitating them, Lobaito said.

Tallgrass Ridge, featuring 35 single homes, near Midlothian and Courtland roads is done, Lobaito said. Hickory Woods, featuring 34 townhomes on Hickory Street is also completed.

"We just heard that they finished the project and 22 units sold in less than a year," Lobaito said.

He said the village is working to carve out an agreement with Lake Ridge, a townhome development of about 50 units on Route 45 and Hickory Street.

"We expect the board will take action on that in 30 days," he said. A new developer took over the project, he said.

In addition, a second building for Cardinal Square apartments, across the railroad tracks from the newly completed village hall, is being constructed.

The village worked with developers offering incentives to get the housing units built.

"These certainly are signals that the economy is approving," Lobaito said. "Often times, it's the residential that comes back first and commercial follows shortly after that. Commercial is coming back very slowly, but we are starting to see signs of it".

Luke's Chicago Style Sandwiches, relocated to a larger spot, the old KFC location, at 551 N. Lake Street, with an outdoor patio.

"It's very busy," Lobaito said.

Just down the street, a new restaurant, Maya's, recently opened, offering Mexican and American food, at 506 N. Lake Street.

It's been her father Miguel Diaz's dream to open a restaurant, said Guadalupe Diaz, who works at the restaurant with other family members.

Miguel Diaz has worked in Cook and Lake counties for 20 years as a chef, she said.

He chose Mundelein for the location because "it's calm. People are nice and there's diversity in the community," Guadalupe Diaz said.