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News

Trolley Barn restoration receives $237,194 TIF grant

Route 126 side improvements scrapped

The Downtown Plainfield Trolley Barn property, 24216 W. Lockport St., near the intersection of Route 126 and Lockport Street, as of Monday evening
The Downtown Plainfield Trolley Barn property, 24216 W. Lockport St., near the intersection of Route 126 and Lockport Street, as of Monday evening

PLAINFIELD – Village trustees Monday approved the site plan review and $237,194 facade grant through tax-increment financing funds for a new use of the old Plainfield Trolley Barn.

Work on the Trolley Barn, which was supported by trustees during a Committee of the Whole meeting April 13, will cost an estimated $474,388. The tax-increment financing, or TIF, facade grant would amount to half the cost.

As part of the Downtown Plainfield TIF District, the village’s facade grant program allows owners of properties in the district to get financial assistance to restore the faces of their buildings.

As a matter of policy, the village doesn’t allow facade grants of more than $150,000 through TIF funds, Village Planner Michael Garrigan said.

But trustees have bent that rule before and approved grants for more than $200,000 for two restoration projects thought of as main components of Downtown Plainfield: the Masonic Lodge at 24050 W. Lockport St. and the Opera House at 24027 W. Lockport St.

“We think [the Trolley Barn] has the significance really being a commercial anchor of the western edge of downtown,” Garrigan said.

Director of Management Services Traci Pleckham said the village has enough reserves in its TIF funds, about $1 million, to fund the grant. The village also has budgeted for $250,000 in facade improvements based on information known at the time of budget planning, Pleckham said.

New use

Chicago-based Sheffield Safety and Loss Control is redeveloping the Trolley Barn, located at 24216 W. Lockport St. in Downtown Plainfield, for office purposes.

Along with an in-house training center, warehouse and loading dock for the company, it also creates space for another commercial user.

The Trolley Barn was built in 1904 as a stop along the Aurora, Plainfield and Joliet railway, according to staff reports. It ceased operation in 1924 and the property was used for storage and maintenance, undergoing several transformations through the 1960s.

Route 126 facade

While demolition of the western “Railoc” addition has already begun on the 19,230-square-foot property, design elements originally planned for the side of the building facing Route 126 are being scrapped because they encroach upon the state right of way.

The improvements included an additional entrance with a secondary handicap access.

The design elements would have needed Illinois Department of Transportation approval, which wasn’t granted.

Garrigan said the village’s long-term plans are to make Route 126, or Main Street, a local road. That way, they can approve and make the modifications in the future. However, that would take cooperation from not just the state, but the federal level for funding, he said.

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