Construction projects continue despite delays

Nick Stroman

The village of Morton is buzzing with the sound of hammering nails and construction equipment, and the community is hoping those sounds will translate to cash register rings by the end of the year.

Village zoning enforcement officer Roger Spangler said his office has been busy reviewing and writing zoning permits for several projects in the midst of construction getting under way soon.

Last summer, Cornerstone Architectural Concepts decided to build a new headquarters in Morton after they lost their Groveland facility to a fire.

Spangler said Cornerstone currently has a temporary building on Route 98 for its custom woodworking operation, but the new location at 601 Flint Avenue will give them more than 21,000 square feet of space.

“They are getting the building closed in right now and at the stage where they are hoping to be done and set up for production in four months. It’s a June time frame,” Spangler said.

Cornerstone was the first employer to work directly with the new Morton Economic Development Council to consider a location in the village.

Mayor Norm Durflinger said the village is estimated to receive a net gain of more than $117,000 in sales tax dollars for their investment in the company over the next decade.

National retailer O’Reilly’s Auto Parts has also decided to make Morton its home.

Spangler said the new 6,000 square foot store has just finalized revamping its site plan and is set to open next month at 131 Detroit Avenue.

TDI and Advanced Design Systems is addressing its expanding operations by constructing a second facility near their current building at 361 Erie Avenue.

“It’s 26,000 plus square feet and about equal in size to what they have now. The building is actually up and they are doing inside work and landscaping now, hoping to be done sometime in the spring,” Spangler said.

Heartland Bank also has a building and roof up for a new branch office at 179 E. Courtland, in front of Wal-mart.

Construction was started this winter on the new 5,180 square feet building.

“I’m not sure when the finish date is, but they have started working on the interiors now,” Spangler said.

Spangler added there are also a few projects planned for this year that have yet to get off the ground.

The Peterson Group is heading up construction on a new Holiday Inn Express near Interstate 74, scheduled to completed by spring 2010.

The new 74-room, three-story hotel will feature a swimming pool, fitness center and a meeting room that seats up to 50 people.

Spangler said the only work completed so far is demolition of the former gas station that sits on the new hotel property.

Morton Park District has plans to start constructing a new swimming pool off Idlewood Street this spring.

“I haven’t written a permit on it, so I’m not sure of dates. The existing pool will stay up and running and I think they want to open the new one summer 2010,” Spangler said.

Spangler said Morton Fire Department will be going out for bids late March for a new $4 million fire headquarters on Courtland Street.

The fire department and village trustees chose the Courtland location for the project because it is a growing area close to significant major thoroughfares and will cover the largest part of the city.

“Plans are pretty much done and I think they want it completed by 2010 because that’s when the department will receive its new aerial ladder truck. They will have a new facility to park it in,” Spangler said.

Peoria-based FGM Architects is heading up the project, which is expected to get under way in April.

Spangler said it is hard to tell whether it is the weather or the economy slowing up some current projects, but he has high hopes for the future thanks to the diligent work of the Morton EDC.

“Hopefully with our economic development folks out there beating the bushes, even in this economy we’ll be able to attract even more businesses to locate or expand in Morton,” Spangler said.

For more information and a continuously updated list of construction projects going on throughout Morton, visit www.mortonedc.org.