WINNETKA – The Winnetka Village Council approved a contract with real estate consultants CBRE Inc. at a meeting on Feb. 2 to provide a financial analysis of the planned development One Winnetka.
At this point, both the Plan Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals have weighed in on the One Winnetka project, with the Design Review Board likely to make a recommendation this month. This means that the controversial mixed used development proposed for the Fell Building site could make its way to the Village Council by mid-March, said Village Manager Robert Bahan.
Questions were raised at the Zoning Board of Appeals and Plan Commission meetings regarding the developer’s request for financial assistance from the village, as well as conveyance of a right of way owned by the village. At the Plan Commission meetings One Winnetka applicant Stonestreet Partners LLC proposed that Winnetka pay approximately $7.6 million for an underground parking garage, streetscape and water main improvements.
While both recommending boards deferred to the Village Council on this issue, Bahan noted that for the Council to make an informed decision it would need an independent financial analysis of the project.
“CBRE has extensive experience working in the metropolitan area,” Bahan said, noting CBRE’s experience working with other municipalities on the North Shore, including Glenview, Evanston, Lake Bluff and Lake Forest.
In an agenda report prepared by Bahan and village attorney Peter Friedman dated Jan. 28, CBRE’s scope of work was described as evaluating the economic and market viability of One Winnetka. In particular, CBRE would evaluate the cost of the parking garage and Stonestreet’s financial request for the village to assist in the building of public elements. The consultants would also evaluate Stonestreet’s request for a public right of way owned by the village and ultimately provide a written memorandum on these issues.
While the cost of CBRE’s services is estimated at $25,000 to $50,000, those expenses as well as all legal fees would be covered by One Winnetka.
At the meeting trustees repeatedly questioned whether CBRE had a conflict of interest with Stonestreet Partners. But CBRE Managing Director Martin Stern assured the council that there was no conflict of interest and that he held a fiduciary duty to the village.
Trustee Scott Myers asked Stern to address what would happen to the property if the One Winnetka project gets turned down. Stern responded whether the property sat idle for a long time depended upon why the project was rejected. For example, if it were rejected because it was the wrong project or Stonestreet didn’t have the financial capabilities, then Stern said another developer would likely come in with the right project.
But Stern said he was uncertain about the property’s future if the project is rejected amidst community concerns. “On the other hand, if the development community judges this was a good project and it was turned down because there were community concerns or indecision that didn’t recommend the project I think that would scare developers,” Stern said.