WINNETKA – Teska Associates shared ideas for redeveloping four key sites in the village’s business districts when the consulting firm gave an update on Winnetka’s downtown master plan at a Village Council meeting on April 19.
To revitalize its struggling business districts, the village hired Teska to assist in developing a new downtown master plan in the summer of 2015. Teska is the lead consultant of a team comprised of Goodman Williams Group, which focuses on market analysis, and Sam Schwartz Engineering, which specializes in parking and infrastructure.
A steering committee comprised of 11 village officials and residents is overseeing the entire project and will ultimately make final plan recommendations to the Village Council. There are also six working groups of about 50 individuals that are providing input on the master plan.
“Our recommendations may be as specific as recommending regulatory changes or as general as recommending a plan,” said Margaret Benson, steering committee chair.
Since the fall, Teska has been gathering input from residents to pull together a master plan that reflects what the community wants to see in its downtown areas. “We are never going to get everyone from the village to pay attention to this but or goal is to get as many people (involved) as possible,” Benson said.
So far, Vision Statements that express the objectives for each business district — Hubbard Woods, Elm Street and Indian Hill — have been finalized. (Go to the www.villageofwinnetka.org to read the Vision Statements.) “These vision statements are living, breathing concepts of what we want for the downtown village,” Benson said.
Goodman Williams and Sam Schwartz have also presented market data and parking analysis. (Go to www.winnetkadowntownplan.com to see the market and parking study presentations.)
Workshops were also held in February and March focusing on four potential redevelopment sites located in the Elm Street business district and Hubbard Woods. The four sites examined for redevelopment are as follows:
- Post Office site at the corner of Chestnut Elm Streets in the Elm Street business district
- Spruce Street and Green Bay Road in the Elm Street business district
- Tower Road and Green Bay Road in Hubbard Woods
- Merrill Street and Green Bay Road in Hubbard Woods
With the exception of the Post Office site — which is owned by the village — these sites were studied as a learning tool, but are not currently in line for redevelopment. “The idea was to look at them was not just what can be built here but what can we learn,” said Michael Blue, principal at Teska.
“These are not development plans. They are not coming for the village for approval,” Blue said. And that includes the ideas for the Post Office site, which at this point are just ideas that could change.
Each of these sites were selected because they met certain criteria, such as a “gateway” location to the business district, or the site is a full or half block. The idea behind redeveloping these sites is that they could advance a vision for the area that would bring in new businesses.
For example, a vision for the Post Office site includes a four-story, 16,000-square-foot, mixed-used building with underground parking at the corner of Chestnut and Elm streets. Next door, a smaller, three-story commercial building would face Chestnut Street. Around the corner on Oak Street, six 2 1/2-story townhouse condos could be situated. A pedestrian walkway and parking lot would face Dwyer Park with a vision toward connecting the park and the development.
At Spruce Street and Green Bay Road, the master plan includes a three-story condo building with underground parking at the corner of Spruce and Birch streets. A smaller, two-story commercial building would be situated directly across from The Laundry building on Spruce Street. The idea is to create a gateway into the Elm Street downtown area.
In Hubbard Woods, the master plan includes redeveloping the corner of Tower Road and Green Bay Road into a gateway with a one-story commercial building that could potentially have a family friendly restaurant. It also includes adaptively reusing the building where McDonald’s is located, as well as the building that sits just north of that site.
The final redevelopment idea proposed is constructing three buildings on or over the already existing parking deck located at Green Bay Road and Merrill Street in Hubbard Woods. One of the buildings proposed would be a mixed-use building, while the other two are conceived as residential.
At this point, Teska’s plan going forward is to develop recommendations pertaining to infrastructure, urban design and land regulations.
For more information go to www.villageofwinnetka.org to see the April report that includes detailed explanations and visuals of each of the proposed redevelopment sites.