Downtown Development: Village Looks at Starting Over with New Process

Consultant recommends two-step process to find qualified developer for Block A.



Lake Zurich Village board members and staff gathered, Tuesday night, to discuss which direction to take to get downtown development back on track. 

See: Lake Zurich Downtown Development

Consultant Lee Brown of Teska Associates recommended that the village start over with Block A, the village-owned Main Street site across form the Promenade, but this time take a more formal process to attracting qualified developers.

“Our recommendation is that it is time to look at a way of building momentum, building success,” Brown said.

Brown proposed a formal two-step process that begins with an RFQ, request for qualifications. Village staff and consultants would ask developers to provide their credentials and references.

Brown said the previous process, in which developers approached the board with their ideas for a courtesy review, did not allow for even evaluation of the four proposals.

“With these four developers there were no rules, there was nothing other than their wily ability to convince you. There was nothing guaranteeing that they could make a sale,” he said.

In step two, village staff and consultants would sift out the RFQs and choose a limited number of developers, about three, to proceed to a Request for Proposals (RFP). The RFP would ask for the details of developer’s proposals as well as proof of financial ability to undertake the project.

“You hold the assets and you should act like a banker,” Brown told board members.

One concern voiced by trustees is that starting over with a new process will take time, as much as a year.

Trustee Jonathon Sprawka expressed concerns that after another year, the village could be back in the same boat. Trustee Terry Mastandrea said he was concerned that the board failed to meet consensus with the four developers interested in Block A, this past summer, and that could happen again. 

Trustee Rich Sustich suggested that the village also work on finding developers for the other parcels in downtown. Brown said the focus should be on Block A, but village staff could also promote the other areas to developers.

Another source of concern for village board members is the type of development that the market can support.  While village residents seem to want retail on Block A, most developers are interested in apartments or condominiums.

Brown told the board that there is no market for retail currently. He said the development of Block A should be dictated by what is economically feasible in the marketplace.

“Doesn’t that kill the idea of a destination if it’s nothing but apartments,” asked Poynton. 

“You can’t beat the market,” Brown said. He added that the population density doesn’t support retail development for downtown, unless the village was willing to subsidize it. 

Brown told board members that he believes the community would be more interested in seeing progress downtown. 

“They want a rational approach to downtown,” he said.

“I’m prepared to take advantage of your proposal,” Poynton said. “It’s better than doing nothing. We just keep wasting big blocks of time and we’re not getting any place." 

John B October 26, 2012 at 02:55 AM
Could it possibly be that some important people live on the lake and don't want their view obstructed? Hmm?
Lake Zurich Resident October 26, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Our previous developer, Greg Smith, had $300M in private investor money and was speaking with major restauranteurs and retailers - he was literally chased off because he wasn't their guy. The Board is better than half controlled by The Lake Property Owner's Association of Lake Zurich. Look it up. They do not want more people enjoying the lake or downtown. The have already taken a run at closing one of the beaches to decrease access by us grubby landowners. They sure don't want any restaurants or additional residences near the precious water. There are 5 slots coming up for re-election - we all need to wake up and get our people in, or stop complaining when these myopic lake purists screw the other 17,000 of us over.
Say it isn't so October 27, 2012 at 02:54 AM
We really need some young people to get more involved and run for the five slots- Wauconda has passed up LZ ...... whats next...... Ford Heights?
Sandra Reid October 27, 2012 at 08:50 PM
B&L LIquors used to be the hot night spot! And Mr. Gould's Rexall Drug store! Now those were the good old days!!!!! Whatever the board and residents decide, I do hope the Alpine motif is continued! That proposed new hotel had NO character whatsoever! How about a Swiss chalet look hotel?!? Please don't ruin such a pretty little town that so many before you fought so hard to achieve! There is nothing else like it around - THAT should be your draw, and THAT should be what you are dedicated to keeping!!!!!!!!!! Your Alpine Village!!!!!!!!!!!!
Deborah Barry October 30, 2012 at 03:59 AM
Issue #1 Officials and staff have NO expertise in development. Friends and relations yes, expertise no. Issue #2 Teska consults to every village in the area. How many city planners have been graduated in the last 10 years? Look at what works--The Glen, downtown Libertyville, Randhurst Village--then talk to those developers. Mixed use, walkable, unique sense of place, owner/operator shops and eateries with a kicked up nightlife to attract visitors. It takes a village, not village officials, to make this work. There are rarely more than a dozen residents at LZ meetings. Show up, and speak out. Deborah Barry, candidate, Lake Cty Board, D19--this includes Lake Zurich, and I have special experience making private and public sector work together on destination marketing.


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