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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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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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