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Downtown II - This time is personal.

Another downtown? The Village worked on the first one for a decade and a half. What to do about our current downtown and what have we learned to be sure another Town Center does not occur?

The past is prologue and we must learn to revisit it so that we do not make the same mistakes.   I am all for a downtown area for Buffalo Grove.  I think Buffalo Grove suffers from not having a downtown and I would love to walk the downtown area and support our local businesses.

However, I am not convinced that plowing the golf course for the purpose of essentially trying to establish downtown II is a good idea.  Not, at least, the residents of the village are convinced that nothing can be down to redevelop the Town Center and to be sure our Trustees have learned the lessons from the past.

Go back to January 28, 1979.  The Chicago Tribune stated that our officials believed we needed a town center and that they were "...not interested in a regional or strip shopping center."  They spoke of a possible library on the site.  A combination of retain and open space. 

Jump to January 17, 1982 and they were still taking about transforming "the historic area at Lake-Cook and Buffalo Grove Roads into a "downtown" district of shopping and office complexes."

On August 18, 1987, The Trib reported that "Buffalo Grove finally will get a downtown."  Town Center was described as "a mall-type tenant mix in a neighborhood shopping center" and something that the municipality has long sought for its main shopping district.

Race forward to present day, and it is generally agreed that Town Center has been a flop.  Clearly its not a downtown nor a main shopping district.  It does have retail - though most stores have not lasted.  It does have open space - though instead of being integrated into the shopping district, the open space is off on its own alongside the post office - not easily accessible from the retail area.  How nice it would have been to have a nice area to sit and relax while shopping.  Remember the old Mill and pond at Golf Mill?   

So what went wrong?  The Village obviously spent a lot of time trying to create a downtown area.  Many years in fact.  Why don't we already have out downtown?

President Braiman shrugs off ideas about Town Center revitalization because the Village has limited control over the Town Center.  Why is that?  Why did the Village give up so much control over the development of an area they considered "historic"?

There may be very reasonable answer to these questions.  Buffalo Grove residents deserve the answers.  We also need to know why there is nothing to be done about redeveloping the Town Center - even if means tearing down the current retail are and rebuilding - and even if tax incentive need to be given to get it down.

If nothing really can be done, what happens to Town Center?  Does it eventually become nothing more than a parking lot in the historic area of the village?

More importantly, Buffalo Grove residents need to know that the Village Trustees have done their homework, understand what went wrong in the process of developing our first "downtown" and what they are going to do to be sure the same mistakes are made in developing "downtown II."

These types of projects affect a village for years to come - in character, in quality of life, in revenue required to provide services, in taxes.  Let's not let another Town Center be thrust upon our Village - at least not without the consenus of its residents and certainly not until we are assured that we have, indeed, learned from the past.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Charlie Barker August 16, 2012 at 02:49 PM
Excellent summary of the situation. I guess what appalls me the most is almost uniform "wow, this is great" reaction from the Board of Trustees. The only semblance of a contrarian view is essentially "it is early in the process" type reactions. There is no acknowledgment whatsoever of past mistakes which as we all know means that 'those who don't learn from the past are doomed to repeat it." Unless the Board publically acknowledges that the town center was a major disaster, stops shifting the blame (and I grant that by and large this group of individuals was not in office during the planning for the town center) for the poor planning, understands the reasons why the town center stinks, and stops the current approach of what seems to be "trust us" there is little hope. One example of the disjointed planning is when the Park District gets the go ahead to proceed with it's idea to develop a performing arts facility, why does the new downtown have conceptual space for a facility that would be in direct competition with it? While I am sure the developer paints a pretty picture, the current concept seems to nothing more than a fanciful eden with concepts that appeal to the trustees rather than an suburban development plan that develops the tax base(as they fall back on the easy political propaganda "it will reduce taxes") and provides products and services that don't already exist either in the village or within easy reach.
Erica Williams August 16, 2012 at 03:28 PM
How about the Land and Lakes property? Thought the owner wanted to develop it.
StandToReason August 16, 2012 at 03:38 PM
I heard your friends were going to buy that property and build a mental hospital. I'm not sure if that was a rumor or what...
concerned taxpayer August 16, 2012 at 03:50 PM
About the Park District's over $3 million purchase for a "center for the performing arts" -- shouldn't we FIRST have a fine arts performance group? Horse before the cart, perhaps?? Also why can't some of this be done at Alcott School -- instead of transferring things from Alcott to a "new" facility. Use what we have before planning/building sometghing new?? Are the taxpayers of Buffalo Grove so flush with money that can pay for facilities that aren't even needed presently. Or, is our Buffalo Park District so flush with our tax money that they can do this type of project without getting a vote from the public?
Michelle Sherman August 16, 2012 at 04:04 PM
I agree. Town Center is a flop. It's just another strip mall to me. It either never attracted the retail shops or restaurants, or received approval, I am guessing, that I would go to. I drive miles out of Buffalo Grove to do my shopping, including grocery shopping. I would like to give my hometown my business, but their are very few places to do this. Which towns close by have it right, in my opinion? Libertyville & Highland Park. Though this may be unfair to compare, since those towns maybe older than Buffalo Grove. I also agree with "J", we don't need another fast food place or salon. I live on the borders of Buffalo Grove and Linclonshire and there are at least 5 salons with in a mile or less of one another between these towns and Vernon Hills. Lincolnshire can't even get it right. They have Village Green and there is nothing there. Retail goes in and out, no flagship restaurants or shopping there, though I see a new restaurant is going in what was Cucina Roma's space. Yes, Lincolnshire has City Park, but it doesn't have that "downtown" feel. Great idea for focus groups. Bring in what the people want, if Buffalo Grove can attract decent retail and restaurants. And where would a new downtown go?
Erica Williams August 16, 2012 at 04:08 PM
RC - I guess they'll build anything like this for you. You must be honored.
Mark Bushey August 16, 2012 at 04:14 PM
I agree that the board needs to listen to the opinions of the residents. You may have something regarding focus groups. For minimal cost the village could put together focus groups. Or even just send out surveys. I am a recruiting manager for a local market research facility and we have done studies like this for other villages.
Erica Williams August 16, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Good idea Mark.
Michelle Sherman August 16, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Great comments and ideas from all. Keep the discussion going. Maybe someone will listen.
Charlie Barker August 16, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Concerned taxpayer, That is SOP for the Park District. Several years ago when the was an effort to get what as called "Buffalo Dells" waterpark approved. Before they even got the project approved( as we all know it wasn't), they held a contest to name it giving a bike as a prize. In some cases, while the cart does need to come before the horse, trust the Park District not to understand the difference. The biggest irony is in the same meeting where the trustees went gaga over "the plan," they endorsed the park district effort while their downtown concept includes a competing facility. Great planning ladies and gentlemen! You folks apparently don't talk to each other much.
Lisa Stone August 17, 2012 at 03:31 PM
I suggested think tank groups during my 2009 campaign for BG Trustee. I tried to meet with the owners of Town Center, but President Braiman kvetched and I wasn't allowed to meet them. I couldn't understand why the objection, thwarting my ability as a Trustee, representing the People, to meet with Town Center owners. I'd understood that things "went down" over the years between the Board and Owners, so I wanted to try to mend any bad blood, since I was fresh & true. As history demonstrates in BG, it wasn't in the cards for me. I tried....relentlessly.
Lisa Stone August 17, 2012 at 03:32 PM
(con't) So, I've recently proposed a comedy club (improv) - like Zainie's, which unfortunately closed down VH. My concept - "Stone's Last Laugh", could be the anchor & bring the synergy that would finally "rock" Town Center. There could also be daily classes for kids by comics. My idea is like Bill Maher, given this: If you don't laugh about politics & all the BS in BG, you'll cry. So, if I bring 10 minutes of "shtick" about BG Politics and all that's encompassed, I can then let the real comics do their thing. 21 & older, w/booze. *Field of Dreams - "If you build it, [he] they will come" "Maher is known for his political satire and sociopolitical commentary, which targets a wide swath of topics including religion, politics, bureaucracies of many kinds, political correctness, the mass media, greed among people and persons in positions of high political and social power, and the lack of intellectual curiosity in the electorate."
Lisa Stone August 17, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Please see above application for "Stone's Last Laugh" which would include a liquor license and other documents regarding my conceptual idea for "Stone's Last Laugh." My thought is to give it a try for 4 Saturday nights in the empty Book Store in Town Center to test the waters, so to speak and before I ask investors to invest in my conceptual plan, which can be replicated or modified throughout Illinois, if it rocks! (con't)
Lisa Stone August 17, 2012 at 04:15 PM
It appears to me that Town Center was sold out before it was ever built, yet it's never been "sold out" in occupancy or to its potential, it seems, so the community finally asking the hard questions as you all are above was inevitable....but please do insist on answers. Legitimate answers and not just blow off ones that leave you and everyone else unknowing. That appears to be the Board's style and they don't seem to want to change what appears to be a Dictatorship type of leadership. Hopefully the rest of the community will join all of you, taking "old school" ACTION, such as a March or Rally, which might put an end to all the nonsense of Buffalo Grove's delusional serfdom or fiefdom, which seems to enable them, almost like addiction to Heroin, as they appear to think they own Buffalo Grove's spirit & soul. Remember they will hopefully never own the people - though at times they seem to act like they believe otherwise. In my opinion, the people have to rise up to bring true change on Town Center & countless other societal dilemmas that we are facing, be it Heroin, Pedophiles or Potentially Toxic Waters at large. To be perfectly concise and clear, I mean all the people, not just the hand picked ones that our BG Board seems to use for their dirty work, which include certain commissioners, but certainly not the majority of the commissioners, who are all great citizens that just want to help Buffalo Grove thrive, & truly not looking for reciprocation, of any sort.
Walter White August 17, 2012 at 04:18 PM
How about "Stone's Laughingstock - don't drink the water"
Mark Bushey August 17, 2012 at 04:49 PM
No one in their right mind is going to let you open a business here.
StandToReason August 17, 2012 at 05:14 PM
A comedy club? Heck yes! Terson's band could be the house band. Hartstein can wow the audience with his uncanny impersonations of local politicians, and I know a great comic whose jokes are, quite simply, relentless! Best.Idea.Ever!
Mark Bushey August 17, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Every time you post something telling us how great and wonderful you are, it's a friggin joke. So maybe this is right up your alley.
Sandy Klein August 17, 2012 at 05:48 PM
How about a place called "Stone the Laughingstock Stone"? For $5.00 a pop you get to throw a stone at Lisa. Lines will be going around the corner - people will think a new iPhone is coming out - and I'll be so rich I'll be able to BUY Buffalo Grove and build it up the way the rest of you have suggested. Even SHE has no idea how popular she would be!
Sandy Klein August 17, 2012 at 06:04 PM
I'm reminded of one of Kristen Wiig's characters, Penelope, on SNL. Sue: Poor Mrs. Garrity's cat died. Penelope: I had a cat who died, too. Sue: Hers died this morning. P: Mine died this morning, too. Just a few moments ago. Sue: But her cat was like her child. P: Mine was like my child. I gave birth to my cat. Lisa is Penelope. Or Normy on Cheers.
Janet Sirabian August 17, 2012 at 07:37 PM
In the short 10 days since this proposal was presented, I have encountered a wide variety of reactions from residents from one end of the spectrum to the other. Please be aware that this proposal is a "concept" and that there will be a lengthy and intensive review process that will allow for public input all along the way. I urge everyone to follow the process and keep informed and participate in the process. You may view the developer's presentation from the August 6, 2012 Village Board Meeting at 8:00 A.M. and 8:00 P.M. daily on either Comcast Channel 6 or U-Verse Channel 99, or by going to vbg.org and clicking on Village Board, Agenda & Video on the left. Also on the vbg.org home page is a link to "Downtown Buffalo Grove" which will link you to the same information that is available to the Village Board and Village staff.
Charlie Barker August 18, 2012 at 04:42 PM
Jan, Everyone understands that this is just an initial step of a longer path. Everyone understands there are going to be differing views as to whether we need it and, if we do, what it should look like. What scares people is that Town Center I is such an utter failure and the Board seems to think that they have no ownership of that problem - not that the current Board was the Board that created it. What scares people I have talked to is the almost universal "wow" of the Board at what is really nothing more than a cookie cutter developer's concept - nice presentation, with little substance hardly warrants a "let's do this" approach. Nary a discouraging word was heard and all you hear from the Board is crickets when it comes to the question how is this going to be different that the first failure and how and why this concept is going to achieve what it seeks to. The Board as a group needs to acknowledge that TC I stinks and address why this new concept is going to be different and successful. There are huge issues that the Board seems to be slipping by with a "trust us" approach to this. In fact, it is almost defensive.
RELENTLESSCRITIC August 18, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Go ahead and open the comedy club. All you need to do is talk about how inept you were as a trustee and people will laugh until they barf In their mouths. But I seem to remember the wishy- washiness and vacillating you did when Eskape was trying to open the teen dance club. First you were for it, then against it. If you open your dumb club, I am concerned about the idiots and drunks that it might attract. Those are the only types of people who'd show up for anything related to YOU. I'm thinking that you'll need to hire some BG cops just to make certain the place doesn't get out of hand. But you'll probably only need room for about 5 people, which is 3 more than you'll need for your Laughingstock water party.
Gary Friedlander August 23, 2012 at 02:30 PM
President Braiman's words in today's Countryside are promising. Thank you all for your comments. It seems the Trustees have heard you all. Please continue to participate in the process and let your voices be heard.
Erica Williams August 23, 2012 at 03:09 PM
Great job of copying and pasting on the "email" and uploading it to the site, Nice job. What's next - paper money?
betty September 11, 2012 at 02:17 PM
I am a resident of Cook County BG. My husband and I bought our home in 1988. A charming little house on Crestview Terrace, right off of St Mary's Pkwy. The reason that we LOVED the neighborhood was because of it's country charm. We loved that we could walk to Buffalo Grove Days, we loved that our children could ride their bikes and walk to school, we loved the mature trees, we loved that we could let our children play near the streets and not fear for their safety. The quiet, cozy, comfortable feel or our neighborhood is what sold us. This is the way this area of BG should remain! If a "New Downtown" is in the future of BG then why not build it where it belongs in Lake County BG where there is more space and will accommodate the additional traffic. Also a low end estimate of $320 million that could take 8 to 10 yrs to build...where is this revenue supposed to come from, the taxpayers who are already stretched beyond our limits. I can just see it now, project started and left unfinished for years and years. The last thing we want to see is another "expansion" project of Lake Cook Rd or Buffalo Grove Rd or Rt 83, which is what will be next on the agenda. There are so many reasons that we do not want this project and so many concerns that we have as village residents. We are supposed to entrust our village trustees to act in the best interest of it's residents...why doesn't this board do this? Perhaps it's time for new village board trustees.
betty September 11, 2012 at 02:23 PM
On another note...I read thru the comments left by others and am disgusted that they would speak to a former village board member they way they did in this post. It is so distasteful, unnecessary and classless. It takes away from what is important here and that is constructive discussion about what to do about this development project.
Cyn October 18, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Well said, Betty. I am an unbiased person and find it more a reflection on their character than anything else. Shame.
" It is so distasteful, unnecessary and classless. " Yep ... just like how she's treated the board and village staff and anyone else that doesn't bow down and kiss her royal ring and just agree with her. What's good for the gander is good for the (silly) goose!
Momma October 28, 2012 at 02:47 PM
The thought of having a "downtown" area does sound nice BUT in today's economy NO! There as so many empty stores around just "sitting" that I feel this would be a mistake. I recall that when "Town Center" went up that was supposed to be like a "downtown" area. Unfortunately, it did not take off. I had heard that McD's had wanted to move in but was told they were not "upscale" enough! They went down the street and joined Wheeling. If this is true, what a loss it was for us!

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