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Developer Proposes a Downtown Buffalo Grove

Early plans call for a downtown district featuring stores, offices, entertainment and homes to be built on the Buffalo Grove golf course and other village-owned property.

More retail options, homes and entertainment could come to Buffalo Grove under a proposal from a developer to construct a downtown in the village.

Developer Charles Malk presented plans Monday night to convert the into a hub for residents to shop, live, work and play. His conceptual plan, which includes an anchor retailer, restaurants, park space and a lake, was met with mostly excitement and some questions from village officials.

“I’m happy and thrilled to see the concept,” Village President Jeff Braiman said, adding that the plan “could alter the fabric of the community.” 

Early drawings of what the downtown could look like show two main streets lined with shops, including a two-story department store. The plan also suggests the demolition and reconstruction of Buffalo Grove’s , and to a new municipal campus on one end of the development.

The development would also require the acquisition of the , the golf clubhouse and its adjacent driving range. If it remained at all, the golf course would be reduced to nine holes, leaving  as the village's sole 18-hole course.

Other proposed features include a movie theater, grocery store, office spaces, outdoor concert space and three residential towers that would offer a total of 266 owner-occupied units.

Officials react

“I do think it’s very, very exciting,” Trustee Beverly Sussman said. “Golfers, don’t throw any balls at me, but I always thought we could put that land to better use.”

Trustee Jeff Berman said he was initially skeptical when he heard about the proposal. But, he added, when he learned more about it, ‘I began to drool.’”

“If this can come to fruition, I think this is a fabulous opportunity for the community,” he said.

Trustee Mike Terson, who has for Buffalo Grove to have a downtown, agreed. 

“I don’t know if I actually drooled, but my jaw did hit the ground,” he said. “If I had a dollar for every time somebody told me I was crazy, you’d be able to finance the project.”

In all, the 65-acre development would offer about 400,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, 66,000 square feet of office space, 45,000 square feet for an eight-screen movie theater and about 60,000 square feet for buildings such as a museum and performance theater. From activities ranging from ice skating in the winter to concerts in the park during the warmer months, Malk said the concept provides opportunities for community events every week of the year.

“I think this is something that will bring people together to the nth degree,” Terson said.

“This is what people have been asking for,” added Trustee Andy Stein. “Not only do you meet their expectations, you exceed their expectations,” he told the developer.

Cost and impact

Construction is estimated at $320 million and would include private funds as well as public money, such as tax-increment financing. The retail component could increase the village’s sales by 22 percent, generating an additional $2 million in revenue for the village each year, Village Manager Dane Bragg said.

“We think this positions Buffalo Grove as a retail competitor, when we have not been on a regional basis, in a niche kind of way,” he said.

The proposal was born from talks between Malk, principal of CRM Properties Group, and village staff about revitalizing the Town Center shopping center at Lake-Cook and McHenry roads, Bragg said. As the conversation progressed, the plan evolved to its current phase. The parties have met about 10 times in the past two months to discuss the plans, he said.

Malk, whose previous developments include the Deerfield Town Center, said he would identify and contract with specific retailers to fill the stores. The developer would own and operate the commercial and residential portions of the area.

Trustee Les Ottenheimer, who has in the village, said he was playing devil's advocate when he questioned what impact a downtown district would have on the existing Town Center, which includes the , , restaurants, stores and office buildings

“I think Town Center will evolve into something valuable,” Malk replied, adding that a big box retailer or residential uses might be possible if officials keep their minds open.

Bragg said a market analysis study will be conducted to look at the impact the plan would have on nearby developments.

What's next?

Bragg said he will form a committee composed of two trustees, two plan commissioners, village staff members and representatives from the development company to continue discussions about the downtown proposal. Later, the Village Board will be asked to refer the proposal to the Plan Commission.

A series of issues, including zoning, stormwater management and financing, need to be resolved before the development gets the green light. It could take a year to clear zoning hurdles, and up to 18 months to complete stormwater management work, Malk said.

Malk said he’d like to start the development in 18 to 24 months. It would likely be built in phases, and could take five to eight years to complete, he said.

While he cautioned that obstacles could bring the plans to a halt, Braiman described this as “the beginning of a journey.”

Does Buffalo Grove need a downtown? What do you think of this proposal? Tell us in the comment section below.

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Lisa Stone August 09, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Ed, I appreciate that you have acknowledged our Lake County-Vernon Township Coalition for Safe Drinking Water & The Clean Water Act, which clearly, by my own choice, is small but quite mighty. The Public Forum, or what I refer to as "WATERSTOCK" (take off on WoodStock) will be held at the Rotary Village Green sometime soon, as vacation time, back to school/college and summer settles down a bit. The documentation on all matters of any concern in our community will be shared, as they already have been with people of sincere interest at this point. Thank you on behalf of our Coalition for your concern and interest. Lisa
P. K. Curtin August 09, 2012 at 09:39 PM
Just what we need -- another grocery store! We already have 2 Dominicks and a Jewel. Has anyone else read that the owners of these stores are in financial trouble and thjey are all for sale. Someone should go back into the village archives and reserect (sp?) the comments of the village board about the "village town center" (the currently under leased/used town center) and see what said board promised the residents of Buffalo Grove. This new developer obviously did and his comments sound almost the same. You can hardly drive along Buffalo Grove Road or Lake Cook Road during rush hours now -- wonder what a traffic survey will say. By the way, is the current town center generating any tax revenue for the village yet? The TIF (or whatever they called it at the time) on that development was extended several times over the years due to the vacant stores and lack of business/sales. What is our village board smoking? Do they not live in the same world as the rest of the tax-burdened residents of Buffalo Grove? Bah Humbug! I think we need another RECALL ELECTION.
John L August 10, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Drive through the strip malls and office centers in this area and see how many vacant store fronts and office buildings there are. Yet, even in the middle of a recession, with foreclosures still at unacceptable levels, a developer comes along with shiney renderings and promises of big income, and we still jump on the band wagon? New industrial buildings continue to go up next to vacant ones and new strip malls go up next to 1/2 vacant ones. Reduce the proposed tenancy rate by the same vacancy percentage as the rest of BG, and then see how the numbers crunch. You might find that the only one making money on this is the developer. It would be a shame to lose a beautiful green golf course to a shiny bauble, especially at a time when many are just trying to survive.
RELENTLESSCRITIC August 10, 2012 at 02:45 AM
So here we go again. Stone never misses the opportunity to hijack a thread. I love the spin about keeping the size of her Coalition small BY HER CHOICE. That's a new one- and really funny too. She can't be serious about it, can she? What idiot would believe that ? Oh wait... never mind- the answer is obvious. Ms. Stone- you still have not answered the same question I have asked you at least 15 times in the past 2 weeks... Does your good pal Representative Sid Mathias support your your coalition or not? He still owes us an answer on that question, but surely you have already asked him yourself. SO why have you not answered? Because he obviously doesn't support it. Or let me guess- you chose not to invite him to join because you intentionally wanted to keep it small? No need to have someone like a State Rep on your coalition, huh? Just make the group too big and cumbersome. Same goes for the other elected officials you've claimed are friends of yours. They'd just get in the way. Please allow me to suggest a much better name for your forum- LAUGHINGSTOCK. No need to thank me for the suggestion- it is the least I can do to support your cause. I don't even expect a membership card for your coalition. I wouldn't want to force you to have meetings in a room bigger than a broom closet. Save the extra space for Sid.
RELENTLESSCRITIC August 10, 2012 at 03:23 AM
Uh oh. I just filled my water bottle from that creek the other day when I was out riding my bike. That explains the stomach cramps and bleeding from my eyes. I thought maybe I had eaten some bad pork or something. Next time I'll just buy an ice cold Snapple at the Shell Station. If only someone had warned me not to drink water out of that creek. How was I supposed to know it wasn't fresh from a pure artesian spring flowing deep beneath the earth's surface? Hell- it looked clean, anyway.
Mark Bushey August 10, 2012 at 04:11 AM
Village Board closing the meeting and walking away while Ms.Stone was still talking..... classic. Ms. Stone has also not acknowledged her blatant lie about the government stalling on her application.
ger August 10, 2012 at 05:08 AM
It may make this plan more expensive ... But isn't the B. G. Golf Course in a flood plain?
Cathy August 10, 2012 at 12:20 PM
This building was once a grocery store and it was a flop! Why would the village entertain another one????
Cathy August 10, 2012 at 12:29 PM
I don't want this silly plan to go forward. Just for your info there is a skating rink (Twin Rinks) and the "new" plan is to use the Beth Am building for a performing arts center. What a good use of existing buildings and not needless construction.
jeffrey Pass August 10, 2012 at 07:30 PM
READ THIS!! "IT'S A GREAT IDEA AND DESIGN" 2 problems though #1 the traffic on lake cook would get worse than it is now. #2 need more parking or a parking garage because a movie theater creates hassles with finding a place to park. I love the design though.
Sandy Klein August 10, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Can anyone point out a city or village that has a downtown area that doesn't have the majority of its buildings visible from at least ONE major thoroughfare? This thing will be tucked away so anyone passing through will never see it as a downtown area. And excuse me, but I'm not being closed minded, I'm being REALISTIC. I was here when the architectural renderings of town center blew everyone away. It was stunning. I couldn't wait for them to break ground. And it never ever ever lived up to the hype. I was here in the early 80's through the mid-90's when we were promised that "this project will result in lower property taxes." Uh huh. Never happened. Those of you who believe this will result in lower property taxes must now have much history here. I agree with those who have posted to redo town center and build up the land across the street. Eventually St. Mary's School will close due to poor enrollment and you guys can have that, too. And guess what? People passing through town will actually be able to SEE our downtown area!
Sandy Klein August 10, 2012 at 08:08 PM
I wish I could go to Sid's town hall this Monday night but I won't be available. If anyone is able to attend, please put the question to him in this public forum so we all have an answer. It's Monday, August 13 from 6:30 to 8:00 in Vernon Township Community Center at 2900 N. Main Street, Buffalo Grove.
Charlie Barker August 10, 2012 at 08:33 PM
While it is certainly important to conceptualize ideas for the future, there are so many obvious issues with this one that it defies the imagination. 1. Traffic flow. Not only is Lake Cook an issue, what about Checker? Natural access to such a concept makes Checker a logical access point. 2. Another grocery store? Give me a break - one in development at BG RD and Dundee and Walmart has upped the ante. 3.What is going to create the people traffic necessary to support this? What are the anchors going to be? I don't think a downtown concept is going to work in BG if it needs to rely on niche stores which have completely flopped in the Town Center (but hey those two tobacco shops are really doing well too). For this concept to have any chance of succeeding, you need out of the box thinking, not a cookie cutter approach to suburban development which is all this is. I have no issue with the current trustees but I see little to be as wowed as some of them seem to be. At this point it is a pie in the sky idea which seems to completely lacking in any real substance.
Cristel Mohrman (Editor) August 10, 2012 at 08:49 PM
Hi, everyone. The Village of Buffalo Grove has released a list of frequently asked questions - and the answers - about the downtown proposal. Check them out at http://buffalogrove.patch.com/articles/have-a-question-about-buffalo-grove-s-downtown-proposal
ed conner August 10, 2012 at 08:57 PM
And Target basically has a grocery store now, as well.
Charlie Barker August 10, 2012 at 09:06 PM
Ed, Yep. Assuming Fresh Fields opens, I would be able to drive to 8 places to buy groceries within 10 minutes of my house. Pretty soon the grocery stores willl outnumber the banks.
RELENTLESSCRITIC August 11, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Sandy- I would imagine that Stone herself will be there. After all, she's been all over Braiman for years and has a real axe to grind with Stollman because he "urged" her to run for trustee, but then openly supported her recall when he saw how inept and unruly she was. Plus, the press will be there and probably an open microphone as well- two things she can 't resist. She'll see it as a way to promote Laughingstock.
Sandy Klein August 11, 2012 at 02:54 AM
Relentless, I know you're right but I'm hopeful that the organizers will be able to put a muzzle on the pitbull. Or maybe a straitjacket so they can haul her crazy behind out of there once she begins disrupting the meeting. Laughingstock....lol. That's perfect, RC!
Lisa Stone August 13, 2012 at 06:43 AM
Here is my perspective on Town's Center: http://www.vbg.org/mediacenter.aspx?VID=36&CID=1 Scroll to 3:13:17
ger August 14, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Looking at the drawing in "THE B. G. Countryside",,, Is the road on the left side of the drawing Lake Cook Road? If so what road does the Village Hall face? Help! ger
Cristel Mohrman (Editor) August 14, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Hi Ger, You can find the developer's conceptual site plans in the PDF (the one on the left) attached to this story. The second page of the PDF is the easiest to see. In that drawing, Lake-Cook Road runs along the two lakes, and the municipal campus is located along Old Checker Road.
ger August 14, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Thank you Cristel !!!
Cristel Mohrman (Editor) August 14, 2012 at 10:10 PM
You're welcome!
JC August 15, 2012 at 07:17 PM
I'm a golfer who lives across the street from the BG golf course and I think this is a great idea. I love the idea of a downtown area to exist and for us to patronize vs going to Deer Park. I'm sure this would also be great for my little guy as he gets older. I remember being a little kid and being able to ride my bike to my downtown area in Florida. Not to mention, I think a lot of people play 9-holes nowadays.
Lisa August 21, 2012 at 11:44 PM
I think this is an amazing idea. I have been a resident of Buffalo Grove for 8 years and have 3 young children. Aside from grocery shopping, none of my money for clothing, gifts, entertainment, and the like go to the village of Buffalo Grove. I would rather put revenue into my own village then continually run to Vernon Hills, Lincolnshire and Wheeling to do all my shopping. I think the plan does need to include useful retail stores that will be sustainable to our community. I think Buffalo Grove has an amazing park and school system, but retail/entertainment improvements is something we need to look toward to continue to be a desirable suburb.
andy August 31, 2012 at 08:45 PM
Too Much, Too Late! Did the board members visit the Deerfield Town Center? The restaurants have changed several times. The small shops come and go-just a few still there from the beginning. Condos??? Have they sold??? Barnes and Noble??? Our children are downloading their books. Did the board members check the unemployment rates in B.G.? How about the increase in Low Income in our schools?
Az Sandman September 21, 2012 at 11:50 PM
Doesn't BG have two 18 hole courses? I'm sure with the way golf revenues have dropped off the last several years eliminating one of the courses will not effect the avaialibilty to play...
Charlie Barker September 22, 2012 at 02:59 AM
I don't think the loss of 9 holes is a major tragedy. And while maintaining green space is a noble cause, this green space benefits a small minority of BG residents. The real overall issue is 1) do we trust the current group of trustees do avoid the mistakes in the Town Center and, 2) what are the safeguards that will be built in to prevent BG residents from taking it in the bag like the residents of Bridgeview are in re: Toyota Park if someone else's dream of riches(follow the money) turns out the be the fantasy pot at the end of the rainbow To date, I have neither seen nor heard much on either of those issues that gives me comfort.
birdie October 16, 2012 at 02:06 AM
I like the concept of the downtown . However, it needs to be done in conjunction with an aggressive events planning department to bring our community there. As a thirty-something newcomer to Buffalo Grove , I go to Barrington, Libertyville, or Arlington Heights for most special events because Buffalo Grove's are really inadequate. We need some fresh creative people with imaginative ideas - not a bunch of former politicians slandering eachother.
Thomas Jackson October 29, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Relentlesscritic: You seem to say just enough to stir the pot, but what you say has no true meaning when it comes to an opinion on the matter. The train station at the Glen was built to accommodate the residential property that was built on the Navy Base property. Unfortunately much of the properties where purchased by speculators at first and you will find that most of the people using the the 2nd train station in Glenview do not live at the Glen nor do they live in Glenview. Second you should know that the Village of Glenview Trustees spent over 3.5 million dollars improving their existing downtown area prior to the final concept for the Glen was approved. Third you should know that the Board and the Village Manager swore that the Glen would never replace the existing downtown in Glenview. Yet when they started to build they claimed Glenview has a new downtown. The time and money spent by the Village of Glenview to build their new downtown has yet to be recovered. The services the Village once provided their residents no longer exists. Early retirements was offer to employees to reduce costs when they didn't get enough, jobs were eliminated. I could go on and on. But I will finish with this know your facts, research information before you comment. Right now in today's economic climate this idea is not worth the risk in my opinion.

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