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Economic Development

The six communities that make up the Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce are booming. Now that the painful and lengthy recession is in the rearview mirror, developers are flocking to the southwestern corner of Lake County, hoping to develop its open land and bring additional fuel to the area’s economic engine.

The Village of Deer Park experienced a huge boost a decade ago when Deer Park Town Center was constructed and it hasn’t looked back. Now that much of the community’s open land along Rand Road has been developed, the Village’s elected officials and staff members are concentrating on bringing in additional residents and businesspeople who will likely shop in its plentiful retail stores and eat in its delicious restaurants.

For instance, a very upscale senior living facility featuring 180 one- and two-bedroom assisted living and independent living apartments is currently under construction in Deer Park. It is expected to be open during the first quarter of 2016 and will be the first such facility to be built in Deer Park, according to Beth McAndrews, Village Administrator.

Rental townhouses and condo/apartments are also in the works. Deer Park Crossing will feature 44 townhouse units and 192 condo/apartments with a pool, clubhouse, fitness center and even a dog park. It will be constructed at the southeast corner of the intersection of Deer Park Boulevard and Field Parkway.

“This is land that has been vacant but was originally zoned for offices. We hope that these rental units will bring lots of activity for our retailers and restaurants,” McAndrews said.

The former Continental office building at 21440 W. Lake Cook Road was purchased by 90 North and is being renovated and updated and will now be called “The Reserve at Deer Park.” It presents a leasing opportunity.

Retailers and restaurants are still finding space in Deer Park, too. The 58,000-square-foot, 27-tenant “Palazzo of Deer Park” retail development is due to open with Buffalo Wild Wings as its anchor. McAndrews said that they would also like to see a second hotel come to the community.

Hawthorn Woods is planning a downtown district along a one-mile stretch of Midlothian Road between Old McHenry and Gilmer roads near its aquatic center.

“The aquatic center is the heartbeat of our community and it draws hundreds of people every day during the summer, so we plan to use it as the anchor for our new, walkable downtown which will feature high-end commercial/retail/restaurant properties and diversified housing which we hope will attract both young people and empty nesters,” said Pam Newton, Chief Operating Officer.

“Hawthorn Woods will continue to be an oasis from suburbia, a very upscale residential community. But we do want to provide support services and amenities for our residents, so we will concentrate them in our new downtown and in our uptown area at Gilmer Road and Route 176,” she said.

The Village is also in the process of approving a new building in the new business park at Midlothian and Old McHenry roads because there is currently no leaseable space left in Hawthorn Woods, according to Newton.

Otherwise, the big news in Hawthorn Woods continues to be residential news. Pulte Homes is building 220 homes in four neighborhoods at Hawthorn Hills. The homes built there will include luxury homes on large lots, luxury homes on smaller lots and senior-targeted maintenance-free, single-family homes.

In addition, William Ryan Homes is building 60 homes at Stonebridge which is a conservation-style community featuring clustered homes and 60 percent open space. In addition, Orleans Homes, now known as Taylor Morrison, is building 28 homes on one-acre lots at Stonewood Glen.

“These are exciting developments because they represent the first time since the recession that we have had large developers coming in and wanting to develop raw land. Other recent new developments have been smaller infill pieces and, of course, we have had stalled communities finished by new builders,” Newton explained. “That type of infill development is important to the quality of life in existing neighborhoods, as it finishes public improvements and allows residential neighborhoods to thrive in a construction-free environment.

Kildeer, located along the northeast side of Rand Road, is excited about a proposal they have received for a new 180,000-square-foot shopping center that would fill the gap along Rand Road between Whole Foods and Chick-Fil-A. It would occupy the space that once featured the Charles Quentin School (now demolished) and Reed Lawn and Leisure, according to Michael Talbett, Chief Village Officer for Kildeer.

“We are actually running out of open space. This is one of the last large parcels we have, but we do have someone looking at the parcel at the corner of Rand and Old Rand roads,” he said.

MOD (Made on Demand) Pizza is recently opened next door to Chick-fin-A. It allows patrons to walk along a counter, picking out their custom pizza toppings, and then they hand it off for seven minutes in the oven.

In addition, a new Optical store is expected to open next door to MOD Pizza in March, 2016.

The other big news in Kildeer involves a Taylor Morrison development of 31 custom homes along the Kemper Lakes Golf Course. They will sell for $850,000 and up and will have a front row seat for the major LPGA tournament that is scheduled to be held at Kemper Lakes in June, 2018, Talbett said.

Lake Zurich is also seeking to attract additional residential development to bring more consumers to its retailers and restaurants, according to Roy Witherow, Assistant Village Manager.

“It is known as the new urbanism. People want to be able to walk to restaurants and stores so we want to encourage development in our downtown that will light that spark,” he explained.

Thirty-nine townhouses have been proposed by Foxford Communities at the corner of Old Rand Road and Main Street in downtown Lake Zurich which will complete the Somerset development. A proposal to build 26 more was expected to be presented to the Board of Trustees by the end of 2015.

In addition, 17 single-family rowhouses overlooking the lake have been proposed for the former J.J. Twiggs.

“We were also approached a couple of months ago about the possibility of building 120 rental units on vacant land near the old lumber yard property at Old Rand Road and Route 22 and we have already issued a permit for the construction of a 120-unit senior supportive living facility at North Rand and Miller roads,” Hubbard said.

“We are putting a high priority on making sure that our downtown thrives, so we are encouraging both restaurants and rentals for the area,” he continued.

The former Delicious Redd’s restaurant has been leased and reopened under new ownership as Craving Gyros, a restaurant with a full Greek menu. A Panera Bread will soon open on the northeast corner of Route 22 and Rand Road and so will a new AT&T store.

Lake Zurich has also gotten good news on the corporate front. Bimbo Bakeries is building a new 20,000-square-foot distribution facility alongside its existing distribution facility in the village’s Commercial Park.

“Lake Zurich still has vacant land, so there are ample opportunities for further development of all kinds,” Hubbard said.

Historic Long Grove, which was hard-hit by the recession, is “finally on the upswing, we are comfortable in saying,” according to Sharon Fine, Executive Director of Downtown Long Grove. “We added 13 new businesses during 2015 and lost only a few.”

Best of all, she said, “we are getting businesses that have had success elsewhere, which means that they will most probably succeed here, too.”

The new businesses range from a pizza and barbeque restaurant to a European rug importer to a furniture repurposer and beyond. The former pet supply store is also being cleverly redeveloped as a hot dog restaurant. There are also ongoing discussions about new restaurants being built on the Village-owned property along the perimeter of the large parking lot.

“We plan to maintain our historic flavor because it is our brand which is well-recognized and strong. We recognize that there is tremendous value in our brand. It is what has sustained us. If we don’t maintain our quaint nature, we become ‘another strip-style mall’,” Fine said.

“We, like others, have struggled in recent years. There is no denying that so we have to give kudos to the merchants who have stuck it out.

Incidentally, the bank property at Route 83 and Old McHenry Road has been purchased and approved for redevelopment as the HarborChase senior living facility. Its proximity to Downtown Long Grove is expected to be a boon to the area’s shops and restaurants.

North Barrington remains a small bedroom community with no new commercial or residential developments on the horizon, according to a Village spokesman.

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