Branding Voices Concerns Over Downtown Direction
Village President Suzanne Branding says she understands residents’ frustration over changes in the direction of downtown development.
Village President Suzanne Branding continues to have numerous concerns over the village board’s recent decision to sell surplus Lake Zurich downtown property.
“I’m just really surprised that five of six trustees jumped on board without doing the checking or background about this alternative,” Branding said. “It just came out of left field.”
Branding said one of her concerns is whether the village can legally take properties that were condemned and put them on the market. She said the village attorney would need to give an opinion on that matter.
Branding is also concerned that the properties purchased at the top of the market will sell for just a fraction of what the village paid for them.
The village could also lose control over what gets built downtown, Branding said.
She said she has been told that the only thing developers are getting financing for right now is apartment buildings.
“If this property is sold and, obviously, developers put up what they want, I’m just wondering if we might have a lot of rental units and that might not serve the community at all,” Branding said.
“I’m hearing residents say they want a commercial, retail gathering spot . . . Residents have to live with a downtown that doesn’t look good; any building should be done for them, not new people coming in,” Branding said.
Branding said the courtesy review process was a difficult one. Four developers presented their plans to the board for Block A, the parcel on Main Street, across from the Promenade. She said developers were supposed to come up with a plan for Block A and then the board would decide on one. However, the developers’ plans kept changing from one meeting to the next.
“They kept changing, moving and shifting which makes the whole process very difficult to deal with,” she said.
Branding said she understands why residents are upset.
“I understand that residents are extremely frustrated and I don’t blame them. I don’t blame the community at all. Unfortunately, the economy doesn’t help; that’s a huge part of this,” she said.
Branding said initial plans for downtown redevelopment were too grandiose and unrealistic.
“By the time people realized they were unrealistic, the economy cratered. It was difficult, very difficult to say the least,” Branding said. “Eventually, I am sure it will get done. It will happen. I don’t know when, but it will happen.”
The next village board meeting is on Tuesday, Sept. 4. The agenda has not yet been set.