A new downtown concept much like The Glen in nearby Glenview may be coming to Buffalo Grove soon.
Last August, Chuck Malk, president of CRM Properties Group, the developer of The Shops at Deerfield Square in Deerfield and Clybourn Place in Chicago, presented a concept to village officials to create a Buffalo Grove downtown with a department store, a children's museum, a mix of condos and rental apartments, all surrounded by niche retailers and restaurants. The 450,000-square-foot downtown centerpiece is proposed at the current site of the village campus at 50 Raupp Blvd. and neighboring Buffalo Grove Golf Course along Lake Cook Road.
"His concept is very bold, with lots of elements including relocating the municipal campus and creating a good, critical mass for retail development," said village manager Dane Bragg. "It would be more entertainment-oriented; a destination for more functions, family-oriented events and behave like a true downtown."
A public square in the middle of the new downtown featuring an entertainment stage, a large fountain and a green could host village events. The proposed downtown area would border Lake Cook Road on the south; Manchester Green and St. Mary's Church on east; Old Checker Road on the north and run along the western border of the current village campus, crossing through the golf course's driving range. Development plans would force the relocation of the village campus to the north end of the property, along Old Checker Road, south of Willow Stream Park.
The concept plan includes 266 residential condos, 325 rental apartments, 360,000 square feet of retail, including a gourmet grocer and two-story department store, 60,000 square feet of office space, a 45,000-square-foot children's museum and 63,000 square feet of both live and movie theater space.
"Unfortunately, the village was never able to successfully establish a downtown probably because of the 'shopping center' mentality during the period it was developing," Malk said via email. "Double-working households and the computer age have resulted in a need to socialize in a downtown community – not a virtual one or a shopping center made to look like one."
Malk wrote that market and flood plain analyses would need to be finalized before the concept is formally presented to the village board for discussion this year.
"The concept of a central business district in Buffalo Grove is a great idea," said village Trustee Andy Stein. "The concept of putting together entertainment, dining, condo, rental and open space is a good one. It's just a question of where it goes."
Some of the issues with the project are density and questions of whether the golf course property should be converted or stay as open space.
"It's too soon to tell what the project will eventually look like," Bragg added. "It could grow or shrink."
The new downtown area, which the village has already been asked to designate as a TIF district, Bragg said, could take up to 10 years to complete, first breaking ground in two years.
"We're interested in the concept and supportive of a downtown development, which is really missing for us as a community," Bragg said, adding that new condos could attract empty nesters, in turn opening up more single family homes to young professionals and growing families. "It's exciting but we are cautious about it."