Although downtown redevelopment was not on the agenda at Tuesday’s Lake Zurich village board meeting, it was heavily discussed by both residents, during public comment, and by trustees.
Village board members listened intently while residents expressed frustration over competing to develop Block A, on Main Street, and to move in a direction of selling downtown property. Some residents also expressed a desire to help the village move forward with downtown development.
Paul Hunt described himself as the voice of younger demographics in town. He said he’s very happy living in Lake Zurich and he believes there are lots of opportunities for his children. However, he said he spends a lot of his money for dining and entertainment outside of Lake Zurich—in Arlington Heights, Lincolnshire and Wauconda.
“I would love to see progress and I’m here to do whatever I can,” Hunt said.
Geoffrey Petzel said he has a background in development. He criticized the board saying it appears there is a lack of communication among members. He said selling the properties would get the village only about 25 to 30 cents on the dollar that they paid. He suggested a citizen advisory board may help move downtown development forward.
Joe Schweda, owner of the Score Board Bar & Grill, also offered to help.
Jim Tarbot told the board that time has run out for dealing with the TIF debt, noting that even if a developer were chosen, it would be years before the village would realize revenue from the property.
“We need to go back to the processes we had in place, take the advice of the consultants we paid for instead of wasting more time and more money,” Tarbot said.
John Schweda also urged the board to move forward with development.
“I certainly would like to see the village move forward with one of these developers . . . Just choose one; it’s not your money; it’s theirs,” he said.
Village trustees did decide to hold off on demolition of two village-owned downtown properties, at 28 and 37 Park Avenue. The vote was tied with Trustees Terry Mastandrea, Tom Poynton and Rich Sustich voting against demolition and Dana Rzeznik, Jonathan Sprawka and Jeff Halen voting for demolition. Village President Suzanne Branding broke the tie with a no vote for demolition.
Branding said she would like to know what the value of the properties would be with the buildings versus without the buildings. Poynton also suggested an appraisal of the property before moving forward. Mastandrea and Sustich said a decision on demolition can wait until the village develops a plan for dealing with its downtown properties.
Trustees closed the meeting with further comments on the downtown development debate. Sustich said he believes people have a misconception of what happened on Aug. 19. He said the board did not reject the developers, but could not reach a consensus on one developer.
“We’re not going to turn around at the next meeting and put parcels up for surplus. It’s a hodge podge of disassembled parcels; they’re not ready to be put on the market. We do need to sit back, look at what we have in a logical way and decide how to put it together so it’s marketable,” Sustich said.
Sustich added that he would welcome the developers back to the board.
“They can bring their proposals back and we would be willing to talk to them at any time and allow the public to give their comments. If there was a consensus, we could move forward,” he said.
Mastandrea asked that downtown development be put back on the agenda for the next meeting, Sept. 17.
Branding said village staff is working on getting answers to some of the issues regarding downtown development.
Read background on downtown development: Lake Zurich Downtown Development