New Direction on Downtown: All 4 Developers Rejected
Lake Zurich board agrees to sell surplus, village-owned downtown property instead.
Monday’s Lake Zurich village board meeting started with a call from residents to move forward with downtown redevelopment. Resident Dennis Abbott recalled days past when downtown was a vital, busy gathering place; he urged the board to eschew apartments and choose David Smith of Southshore as the developer. Chamber Director Dale Perrin urged the board to choose a development with commercial and retail. “Be bold; be daring,” Perrin told the board.
However, Lake Zurich village trustees could not come to a consensus on a single developer for the village owned parcel on Main Street, that faces the Promenade and lakefront. After nearly two hours of discussion, the board determined to take a different route and start declaring vacant downtown properties as surplus and sell them off.
“My goal tonight was to come to some sort of resolution. This is the last thing I expected to happen,” said Village President Suzanne Branding after the vote.
The only trustee who voted against selling the land, rather than choosing a developer, was Terry Mastandrea.
After the meeting, Branding said she wondered if trustees might regret the decision.
“It was a little bit crazy the way this happened. This has never even come up before; it has never been talked about,” Branding said. “It wasn’t very well thought out.”
Branding said she believes there are some vacant parcels the village should sell.
“There are lots broken up and split up that wouldn’t lead to any huge development. I could see selling that, but to put everything on the block; it’s a little bit strange,” Branding said.
Prior to that decision village trustees discussed the four developers vying for developing Block A and Branding asked each trustee if they could name their top choice.
Mastandrea and Jonathan Sprawka initially wanted to go forward with two developers; when pushed to choose one they both chose Southshore. David Smith of Southshore’s plan was for rerouting Main Street and creating a gathering space with restaurants, and retail. Trustees Tom Poynton and Rich Sustich chose developer J. Moises Cukierman’s plan, which was primarily residential with luxury apartments. Trustee Dana Rzeznik chose Richard Sova and Landover, but then switched to John Breugelmans of ARDE, a mixed-use development with commercial on the ground floor and apartment/condominiums above. Trustee Jeff Halen said he was not comfortable going ahead with any of the developers.
Although the plan for the meeting did not include developers addressing the board, Breugelmans, Smith and Sova were present and were allowed to address the board.
Sova addressed the board and explained why the developers want exclusivity before moving forward with studies. He told them that normally a developer puts a piece of property under contract before spending money on things like soil borings, marketing studies and rezoning.
“ In this case, the developer does not control the property; you do. We’re reluctant to spend a lot of money on something that may or may not happen,” Sova said.
Sova’s comment sparked the idea to sell the property. Trustee Sprawka suggested selling the property and other village property as a way to ensure that the developer has the financing and will go forward with the project. The consensus of the board was that surplus property, including Block A, should be sold.
“It’s not a failure on the developers' part; it’s a failure on our part of the process. The developers came forward with great plans. I’d like to see it put up for surplus and I’d like to see every one of you at the table gobble it up,” he said.