The Highland Park, Ill., City Council approved a redevelopment ordinance on Monday that will allow Simply Self Storage (SSS) to build a three-story facility on the site of a historic train station. The developer had planned to demolish the former Briergate Station, which served the Skokie Valley route of the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad, but a local preservation group is trying to have the structure relocated before final project approvals are in place.
Though SSS owns the railway station at 1495 and 1505 Old Deerfield Road and has been working with city planners on the self-storage project since last October, the company wasn’t aware of the building’s historical significance until Monday’s meeting, SSS Vice President Brandon Dickens told the council. The new facility is intended to complement another nearby facility the company owns, according to a source.
Kyle Verbeke of the North Shore Line Preservation Association discussed the building at the meeting, informing officials that the Briergate Station is the only one remaining of nine identical buildings that served the electric railway. The 91-year-old, Spanish-revival building served the line from 1926 to 1963. The other eight stations were demolished during the 1960s because they were directly under power lines, a source reported. Two other stations that served the North Shore line also still stand. Briergate isn’t designated a local landmark, nor is it listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The council’s 7-0 ruling includes a provision that doesn’t allow the structure to be demolished until all project plans are complete and approved by the city. Dickens indicated construction wouldn’t begin for up to six months and that SSS would try to work with the preservation group to move forward with the relocation.
"We want to work with the new owners of the building and not interfere with their plans for development," Verbeke said during the meeting. "As of right now, we are waiting to speak to them so we can get our fundraiser started."
The preservation group hopes to raise enough money to relocate the building and preserve it as a museum.
Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., SSS was founded in 2003. The company owns or manages more than 230 self-storage facilities in the United States and Puerto Rico comprising more than 18 million square feet.