As Lake Zurich officials look to bolster the town’s Main Street area, two redevelopment proposals have been presented to the Village Board there that would bring retail space and a marijuana dispensary; the trustees seemed open to all of this.
One of the proposals presented at the February 5 meeting called for the redevelopment of retail areas at Old Rand Road and Main Street. The second was for a pot shop in front of a vacant store at the Oakwood Commons Shopping Center at 680 Route 22.
Both presentations were for informational purposes only and the board took no action. Developers of the respective projects tried to gauge the board’s support for the potential plans, and trustees and the mayor seemed OK with both ideas.
“Making our Main Street District more of a destination has been a top goal of our community for years,” Kyle Kordell, the village’s manager of administrative services, said in an email to the Pioneer Press following the Village Board meeting. “We have made many great steps in this direction over the last few years, and we think this proposal is another step in the right direction.”
The Old Rand Road project was presented by a representative of Chicagoland real estate development group True North Properties. The representative explained that the developer will update and improve the facade of existing retail businesses in the area and possibly add a drive-through feature.
There is currently an ice cream parlor and shoe repair shop on the site. Nick Leremuic, the son of True North’s owner, said there are no plans to evict current business tenants if the redevelopment proposal wins board approval.
The developer explained that the plan would update the small mall’s exterior while leaving some elements untouched, namely the parking area. Leremuic suggested raising the ceilings, but most of the work would be exterior renovations, including stone façades and large windows in the spaces.
Mayor Tom Poynton said the proposed investment would not be small and wondered how True North would profit from a rehabilitation project.
Leremuic agreed and said the only way it would make sense was if the company kept the property and the existing tenants, at least for now.
“So this money invested now is helping to beautify and update the place,” he said. “We’re trying to keep the tenants we have.”
He said his company expects to own the property for years and that it would be easy to lease the space or lease it to new ones if existing businesses leave.
“Over the years, as we hold the property and manage it and keep it that way, the numbers will even out,” Leremuic said.
At this time, True North is not requesting any zoning changes on the property.
Kordell said he expects the board to formally review the project in March, based on broad consensus among the goals of both True North and village leadership.
The other project the Village Board heard plans for was a marijuana dispensary. There was a similarly positive reaction from the board, although its future looked less clear.
Brightside CEO Ashley Thullen and Tofino Shoreline Partners CEO Tim Duffy were at the meeting to present the idea, but Tofino will have little involvement with the project.
Tofino Shoreline has a marijuana dispensary license that Brightside wants. But under state law, Tofino cannot sell the license without a functional physical location attached to the license. Business leaders announced that Brightside will manage the property and development until Tofino sells the property and license to Brightside.
Still, none of the board members had any serious objections to developing a vacant retail space. Plans for the marijuana dispensary must be submitted to the village’s Planning and Zoning Commission, officials said
“It is far from certain at this point, but Applicants from Tofino Shoreline Partners and Briteside can now go to a future Public Hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission, which is expected to be held on March 20 at Village Hall,” Kordell said. email.
Trustee William Riley said at the board meeting that he was concerned that children might be attracted to the dispensary while walking by it or hanging out at a nearby 7-Eleven convenience store or pizza restaurant. He also said there are already plenty of dispensaries in the area.
But Thullen argued that he supports teaching “kids the responsible use of marijuana” and said more dispensaries do not mean more users.
“Just because there are more bars in your city doesn’t mean there are more people drinking, it just means there are more bars to go to,” he said.
Thullen’s company is preparing to open two dispensaries, one in south suburban Chicago Heights and the other in the southern Illinois town of Carbondale.
Trustee Greg Weider asked Thullen what makes Lake Zurich attractive. He said he liked the community.
“It’s clear to me that you have a big heart here,” he said. “And very beautiful. Why wouldn’t I want to be a part of this?”
Poynton joked that he had to do more than start a dispensary.
“You can buy a house here too,” he said.
All joking aside, Poynton seemed to like the dispensary idea, considering the current location was vacant.
“Anything you do will be a huge improvement over what’s out there now,” he said.
Jesse Wright is a freelancer.