On Wednesday, June 27th, the Village held a joint meeting of the Plan Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, and Design Review Board. The agenda: To hear the final "Final Plan" for the One Winnetka Planned Unit Development. All i's dotted. All t's cross. They expected no surprises.
They were wrong.
Last December, the developer failed to nail the go-ahead on his then-final plans because the Village Council said the changes from July's approved Final Plan were enough of a redo to stick in the clutch and send the project back to the Advisory Boards for, well, advice.
At that time, the developer claimed these changes got him "60% of where we need to be," leaving at least one Trustee to wonder the fate of the final 40%.
On Wednesday evening, they found out.
- Gone – the Lincoln Avenue promenade and its underground parking.
- Moved – the building, 40 feet to the East.
- Added – a second level of underground parking adjacent to Hadley School.
- Asked for – a portion of the Village’s east side parking lot.
What they didn't expect:
- Gone – premium finishes and Beaux Arts detailing on windows, balconies and stonework.
- Changed – Elm Street townhouses from 5 to 7.
- Rerouted – all but resident access to Elm Street.
- Reduced – the width of the parking drive aisles in underground lots.
- Moved – Trash and transformers to the south lot line.
- Added – increased façade exposure 40 feet closer to Hadley on the East,
- One Winnetka Preliminary Plan – Approved January 2017
- One Winnetka Final Plan – Approved July 2017.
- One Winnetka Modified Final Plan – Reviewed by VC and recommended or further Advisory Board review, December 2017
- One Winnetka Current Amended Plan and how we got here – Reviewed by Commissioners on June 27th
Why is This Taking So G.D. Long?
Easy question. Not-so-easy answer. One Winnetka is a Planned Unit Development (PUD). A PUD is a 10,000+ square-foot big deal. The bigger the deal, the more time it takes to get to go. One Winnekta is a 195,000+ square-foot big deal.
And a complicated one.
Exceptions to the zoning laws and design guidelines are reviewed by the Advisory Boards. More of one means more of the other. One Winnetka asked for seven stories, attempted to annex parts of Lincoln Avenue, and introduced Beaux Arts to the Village design vernacular. Eventually, these were approved. Twice. But rinsed and repeated when the developer called financial hardship and made changes the Village Council called big enough to send back to the Boards for further review.
Oh, and then the developer changed the changes before the Boards could log in.
What’s next is anybody’s guess. Although the title, “Current Amended Plan,” could be a tip-off.
So now you know.
No, Really, What’s Next?
“In light of the proposed project changes, would you still recommend approval?”
It starts tonight, Monday, July 9th, with the ZBA. Each board will grill the Developer, review, discuss, debate, and take comments from the public, then toss it back to the Village. Up or down, with or without recs. The VC will take the hand-off and – if no more changes or surprises – put it to bed. Big if.
Not Telling Them How to do Their Jobs, But…
- What's the market value of the parking lot we’re swapping out? In today's dollars, please.
- Sorry, these just don't look like $7.1 million in public – underline – benefits.
- Speaking of which, the new streetscape? More like private landscaping than a public benefit, no?
- East side façade – 4 stories residential plus 2 levels of parking. Any ideas on how to make it less looming?
- Two-story parking. Are those two levels of, cough-cough, exhaust vents on the East façade?
- Reduced drive aisles – dusting off collision insurance even as we speak.
- Fuzzy math – seems like there are only 33 incremental parking spaces.
- You promised limestone façade. Now promise "granite or similar" and "limestone or similar" is not 190,000 square feet of faux stone. Or concrete block.
- Trash and transformers on lot lines might not make for good neighbors.
- Bye-bye, Beaux Arts, hello, ordinary. 190,000+ square feet of ordinary. Wait, are we still talking about Winnetka?
- We get the traffic study's 1.6-second wait time. Now, how about car counts.
- Market facts – We were warned. The market changed. Maisonettes are multiplying. And shrinking. What's next?
- Garbage pickup – lots and lots of trash. And when it goes, when will it go? While we’re sleeping, or running errands? Or walking the kids to school?
- As always, still looking for that retail plan. And no “new retail vs old retail” excuses.
Thinking of Leaving This to People Who Know More than You?
News flash – they don't know more than you. They're just in the hot seat. And many of the commissioners are ruling on One Winnetka for the first time, caught between rubber-stamping and side-eyeing.
Will They Get it Right, or Get it Over With?
Something will be built on that property – or properties. Our net worth, natural assets – train and lakefront – and the resurgence of the walkable small town downtown, virtually guarantee it.
Help them help you help the town we come home to.
Three Dates – Three Decisions
Mark Your Calendars – Village Hall 7-9:30 PM. Same time, same place for all meetings.
- TONIGHT, July 9th: Zoning Board of Appeals
- Thursday, July 19th – Design Review Board
- Wednesday, July 25th – Plan Commission
Show up, speak up, or log in to get the Village you deserve.