Spot Check: Downtown Master Plan - What's in Store for Winnetka?

We’re smart. We’re affluent. We’re just not hip. Ouch. How the Downtown Master Plan intends to fix that.

If we build it, they will come. With their kids and their credit cards. So says the DMP Steering Committee after 12 months of resident input, market research and $147,920 in consulting fees.  

According to their almost-100-pages of where-we-ares, how-we-got-heres, and where-we’re-goings, Winnetka is restaurant-hungry, our bikes are lonely, we don’t have a nightlife, our sidewalks are dirty, our storefronts don't play well with one another, and you can’t find your way around.

Oh, and we’re losing our relevance.

Aw, Show a Little Love

The Steering Committee’s got recs. Twenty-three of ‘em, [pg. 97] ranked from fast and cheap, to complicated and deep pockets. With must-dos thrown in. 

Topline it for Me, Please

  • More restaurants – “brew pubs” - not so much for the food as for the action.
  • More retail – research says we’ve got room to grow, and a chance to spend Wilmette, Evanston & Glencoe Bucks here. 
  • More signs – tell visitors where to go – in a good way – and a Streetscape Master Plan rewind so Winnetka looks, well, like Winnetka when they get there. 
  • Bike racks – but leave routes to those racks to the Park District.
  • In-town empty-nester and starter home-sweet-homes. Rental in Hubbard Woods and condos on Elm. TBD Indian Hill.
  • Medtail. [28:16] More retainers and mouth guards than crutches and gushing blood, but works for landlords and downtowns if done right.
  • Elm Street Kumbaya. One business district that bridges the bridge and rings registers.
  • A kinder, gentler Green Bay Road with traffic-calming, pedestrian "pausing" and "passing," and landscaping. Lookin' at you, Northfield. 
  • Parking – in the right place at the right time for the right people.

But first, property owners, merchants and the Village must have a moment, join hands, and point in the same direction. Crossing fingers, not holding breath.

The full story. [Sept 13th 22:11]

Let's Give 'em Something to Talk About

The chat could start as early as next week. Watch for the VC to tee up these conversation starters.

  • Winnetka for Winnetkans. Or not?
  • Retail Overlay. [section 3.3.4] Shrink it to concentrate retail activity, or call it by another, more user-friendly name?
  • Limit the types of businesses that have no business here. Say bye-bye to the maybes and fast track the no-duhs? (Drive-thrus and kennels, you know which column you're in.)
  • Downtown Winnetka v Old Orchard. [Sept.13th 1:17:00] Build a portfolio of like-minded businesses, not our job? Economic Development pros or Sim City fans need not apply.
  • Advisory board training? Planned Development Commission? Revised zoning ordinances and design review processes? Zoom!
  • And finally, who wins the ball toss – Plan Commission or Business Community Development Commission (BCDC, for short)?

What's Next?

Nobody wants this $147,920 to go to waste. Staff will recommend. Trustees will discuss. Expect much trustee-on-trustee about the meanings of “something” and “done.” And terms like jurisdictional transference, public-private partnerships, intergovernmental cooperation, and a little something called the Business District Revitalization Fund.

Many recs will make the 2017 Budget short-list. (Spot Check Alert.) Expect more to be rolled out, one budget at a time. Village Manager, Rob Bahan explains.[1:05:54] Let the games begin.

Marching Orders

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