For years, a gas station sat at the corner of Route 30 and Route 59.
But in 2008, thanks to federal and state funding, work began on an $89 million project to and alleviate the bottleneck at Route 30. Amidst the construction, the former Go-Tane station, by then vacant, was demolished, leaving green space at the intersection.
Now, a developer known as G.C. Real Estate LLC is looking to build a new gas station at the site. Proposed as a BP station, the project includes a canopy with eight fuel pumps and a 3,600-square-foot convenience store with a drive-thru business — possibly a Subway restaurant, according to project architect Eric Eriksson. The plan also designates a triangular 4,500-square-foot section at the hard corner as a donation to the village for a possible Route 66 monument.
Speaking on behalf of the developer, Eriksson was at the June 5 plan commission meeting to discuss the proposal for the station, designed to mirror the Tudor revival style of the directly across the street.
With the developer requesting to rezone the entire parcel for business — currently, a portion of the property, home to a , is zoned residential — Planner Michael Garrigan said plan commissioners are tasked with deciding what their vision is for the corner.
The village’s comprehensive plan identifies the Route 59 corridor as a business transition district (BTD), with a mix of residential and lower-impact business uses, such as offices.
“[The gas station] is not consistent with the general trend of development along the corridor,” Garrigan said, adding the corner is also important as an entrance to the village.
“The significance of the corner as a gateway of this corridor should be taken into account,” he said, explaining the location is one of two places where the Lincoln Highway and Route 66 intersect.
“What’s the plan commission’s vision?” Garrigan asked, saying members must decide whether the Route 59 corridor is to be used for business transition, or more intensive commercial developments.
Ultimately, plan commissioners decided to hold off on making a recommendation to the village board, at least until after a June 11 Committee of the Whole meeting, now designated as a joint meeting of the , plan commission and historic preservation commission.
Dozens of residents — many who own homes on Joliet Road (Route 30) and Division Street (Route 59) — turned out to hear more about the gas station plan. They also had plenty to say.
Homeowners sound off
Robert Schinderle, who lives on Newkirk Drive less than a block from the proposed gas station, spoke as a former village board member who helped craft the comprehensive plan.
“I worked my butt off to come up with a plan that would serve the Village of Plainfield for a long time,” he said. “We have been chipping away at it constantly.”
Residents also expressed concern with bringing even more traffic to the already heavily traveled intersection.
“The Go-Tane was a royal pain and it was applauded when it was torn down,” homeowner Thomas Gierich said. “This is prime real estate, it shows what Plainfield is, and my big concern is that someone is going to get killed there.”
Highway Commissioner Sam Reichert questioned the wisdom of the proposed Route 66 attraction.
“Where would they park?” he said, referring to the motor tours that occasionally traverse the historic highway. According to Eriksson, the proposed gas station would have 16 parking spaces.
Sue Hasenyager took issue with the proposed use of an alleyway along Route 30 as a full access point for the gas station. A second entrance is proposed along Route 59.
“It welcomes people to use that alleyway for their convenience, but it disregards the safety of all of us who need to use that alley on a regular basis,” she said, saying heavy traffic already makes it difficult to turn into the alley. “You don’t know how many times I look in my rearview mirror and hope that semi will be able to stop.”
Resident Ed Arter said the proposed access points aren’t likely to be approved by the Illinois Department of Transportation.
“There’s no way on this green earth that IDOT is letting a right in, right out on Route 59,” he said. “That is way too close to the intersection.”
A viable project?
In the end, plan commissioners opted to wait and see what happens at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.
Commissioner Andrew Heinen said before making a decision, members need to know if IDOT will agree to the developer’s proposed access points.
“Is this even a viable project?” he said. “I think a traffic consultant needs to be brought on board. I don’t see this being a viable plan right now.”
Plan commissioner Richard Kiefer also expressed doubts about the proposal.
If the station were built, Keifer said, “I think we lose all the benefits that we’ve gained” from the Route 59 widening.
Commissioners agreed to continue discussion on the proposal until June 19.
The joint meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday, June 11, at .