WINNETKA – Lead consultants Teska Associates recently released vision statements for each of Winnetka’s three downtown business districts.
“The vision statements celebrate the desired look, feel, function and overall objectives for each district as we look ahead into the future,” said Erin Cigliano, a senior associate and media specialist for Teska.
The Elm Street business district is described as the village’s community core with a mix of thriving restaurants, businesses and community amenities. The vision for Hubbard Woods is to be a great place to have coffee, window shop for unique items or attend an event in the park. Indian Hill is envisioned as a major access point for students while offering a mix of services, convenience and professional uses.
In June 2015, village officials hired a team of consultants from Teska, Goodman Williams Group and Sam Schwartz Engineering to a develop a Master Plan for the village’s struggling business districts. While Teska and Sam Schwartz are overseeing the master plan and parking and transportation analysis respectively, Goodman William provided a market analysis report in November.
Teska kicked off its community outreach with a workshop in November designed to solicit feedback from residents of what they envision for the business districts. Those results, as well as feedback from the project website, idea chalkboards, focus groups, steering committee meetings, Village Council workshops, and working groups, were utilized by Teska to draft the vision statements.
Teska began the process by drafting vision statements for each of the business districts, which they refined over time as they received more feedback from residents, Cigliano explained. For example, the consultants initially described the Elm Street business district as Winnetka’s municipal hub. But after receiving input from residents the vision statement was modified to convey the Elm Street district’s role as the community core.
Cigliano emphasized that these vision statements are just that, visions for the future. “They represent what Winnetka’s business districts desire to become, not where they are today. Moving forward, these statements will serve as the foundation of the Winnetka Downtown Master Plan, helping guide and direct each district to realize their vision,” she said.
Moving forward, Teska will shift its focus to the redevelopment of key sites in the downtown, such as the post office site. As Teska looks at potential redevelopment ideas the consultants will consider the vision statements, the market study completed in November, as well as the conditions of the sites, Cigliano explained.
Teska will introduce its ideas for redevelopment of key sites at a steering committee meeting scheduled for Feb. 29. The steering committee, which comprises a mix of people such as long-term residents, active community members and realtors, will provide Teska with feedback. “It’s a really dynamic mix of those who understand the past and those who are visionaries for the future,” Cigliano said. Prior to the steering committee meeting, the consultants will also meet with a working group made up of real estate and development professionals.
Teska’s approach to developing a master plan that can be used 20 years into the future is really community based. “The more input we get the more we are hitting the right points with the redevelopment considerations,” Cigliano said.
Cigliano encourages residents to get involved. “If people feel they aren’t a part of the process it is never too late,” she said. All of the steering committee meetings are open to the public with opportunity for public comment at the end of the meetings. Residents can also provide feedback on the project website.
The next steering committee meeting is scheduled for Feb. 29 at 7:00 pm at the Village Hall. For more information and to read the vision statements go to www.winnetkadowntownplan.com.