A local real estate company is applying its experience restoring distressed residential properties to a Tinley Park strip mall, best known for a convenience store-tenant that was shut down by police.
MACK Cos., through its Oak Park Avenue Realty Ltd., wants to upgrade the two-building Gateway Plaza at the northwest corner of Oak Park Avenue and 183rd Street.
The 20-year-old development currently has two tenants — a dry cleaner and a tool sales and rental business. The new owners hope to attract a convenience store, deli or bakery to the vacant corner storefront and an office or retailer to the other storefront.
Overall plans include modifying the site, enhancing current architecture and adding an upstairs apartment as part of a mixed-use strategy.
The mixed-use function fits with Tinley Park's Legacy Plan, which encourages the concept of retail at street level with living quarters upstairs.
"We're working out the details," Village Planning Director Amy Connolly said about the company's request for a special use permit and site plan.
The Plan Commission is scheduled to vote on both issues Thursday.
Mayor Ed Zabrocki recalled Tuesday that "all kinds of crazy stuff was going on" at a round-the-clock convenience store before police put the management out of business in February for allegedly fencing stolen goods.
With the new owner, MACK Cos. CEO James McClelland, in charge, "It's a whole new ballgame," Zabrocki said, noting the vacant storefronts have been cleaned out in anticipation of remodeling.
Zabrocki ranks MACK's president and CEO among developers and property managers who "understand the Legacy concept and are moving toward it."
McClelland operates his Tinley Park-based company at 16800 Oak Park Ave.
Zabrocki said 183rd Street has special significance as the southern end of Oak Park Avenue.
Southern Oak Park Avenue has been slow to develop, partly due to fewer residents, but that is changing, he said.
"I think you're going to see more and more development," he said, citing the relocation of Bailey's tavern from Chicago in 2009, a cluster of small shops to its north and Central Collision Center north of Central Middle School.
Zabrocki said Bailey's upgraded "a ramshackle building," while Central Collision has upgraded both its building and exterior property.
A planned resurfacing in 2014 will add to the section's viability, he said.
"People are beginning to drive south of 173rd Street, which is great," Zabrocki said.