Dimucci property owners get two more years to find shopping center developer
The owners of the 109-acre Dimucci property at Route 12 and Old McHenry Road in unincorporated Lake County near Hawthorn Woods have another two years to find a developer and present final plans for a shopping center on the site.
If that proposed use is found to be unworkable, any substantive change would trigger a requirement for public review comparable to that leading to Lake County's preliminary approval in 2012, officials say.
County officials estimated 30 hours were spent in public hearings at that time before the original proposal was scaled down and conditions for development were imposed.
Changing course to include a housing component, for example, might be a possibility at some point given the tough market for new brick-and-mortar retail, the committee was told.
"We're not asking for that today. Could it go in that direction? It's very possible," John Dimucci told the county board's public works, planning and transportation committee, which met Wednesday to consider the extension.
For now, the family will continue looking for a developer to proceed with the project as planned, he said after the committee unanimously agreed to the two-year extension.
"Nothing has changed," he said. "Hopefully we can bring it to fruition. That's the goal."
Dimucci described Wednesday's action as "more procedural than anything" but acknowledged during the meeting the mixed-use development approach is popular now.
Preliminary approvals in 2012 for the zoning change and general concept required the family to submit final plans for review within five years. With nothing forthcoming, county planners in 2017 granted another two-year extension that ends Oct. 9.
Further extensions require committee approval. The thumbs-up Wednesday gives Dimucci "time and options" to pursue development, said Eric Waggoner, the county's director of planning, building and development.
Waggoner said 53 acres would be available for commercial development with up to 450,000 square feet of retail and 200,000 square feet of other uses. The rest of the site would be open space, he said. He said the development is governed by about 80 pages of requirements.
"There is no project in the history of Lake County development that is so encumbered by (such) conditions, restrictions and design parameters," he said.
Committee members raised points about addressing bike and pedestrian connections and energy use should development occur, but they unanimously supported the extension. Waggoner said those and other matters would be reviewed when a final plan is received.
The family has owned the property on the southeast corner Route 12 and Old McHenry Road since the 1970s. A proposal in the late 1990s for a 1.2 million-square-foot shopping center, known as Taubman Centers, was dropped after fierce opposition.
The atmosphere was just as charged when the family in 2010 sought county approvals to change the zoning from estate residential to accommodate 800,000 square feet of commercial space.
The size was scaled back and other changes incorporated after extensive public input in early 2012. While review and discussion of a final plan will be required, any substantive change will trigger a similar process, according to Waggoner.
"It would be 2012 all over again in terms of public input," he said.