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.
“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.
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.