After further review, electronic billboard for proposed Des Plaines retail plaza approved

  • After initially rejecting plans for a billboard on a 4-acre property at Mannheim Road and Pratt Avenue, Des Plaines aldermen reversed course this week when told it was essential to the construction of a restaurant-and-retail development on the site.

      After initially rejecting plans for a billboard on a 4-acre property at Mannheim Road and Pratt Avenue, Des Plaines aldermen reversed course this week when told it was essential to the construction of a restaurant-and-retail development on the site. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 
Posted12/9/2021 5:30 AM

An electronic billboard that developers said was a do-or-die part of a proposed restaurant-and-retail center on Mannheim Road got a green light from the Des Plaines city council this week.

That paves the way for an Outback Steakhouse, a Five Guys restaurant, a First Watch restaurant and an undisclosed cannabis dispensary to be built on the nearly 4-acre property, on the southeast corner of Mannheim and Pratt Avenue.

 

The council approved the commercial plans for the site in October. On the same night, however, it denied permission to erect the billboard.

The council reconsidered the request after Image Media, the Hillside company that's set to buy the land from the current owner, said the center won't go up without the billboard. A separate company, Chicago-based GW Properties, is slated to purchase the land from Image and put up the retail buildings.

Representatives from both Image Media and GW Properties spoke to the council about the proposal during a public hearing Monday night.

GW Properties' Mitch Goltz insisted his firm has nothing to do with the proposed billboard but said its approval is necessary for his firm's deal with Image Media to proceed.

"They're not going to sell to me at the pricing we have if they're not going to get their billboard," Goltz said.

Goltz said all four potential tenants are committed to opening on the site in 2022.

"(They are) eager to see this project go forward as soon as possible," Goltz said.

The deal, Goltz said, will beautify the long-unused site and benefit the city.

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Alderman Malcolm Chester, whose 6th Ward includes the site in question, didn't fully agree with Goltz's assessment. While acknowledging the economic boost the development could bring, Chester said nearby residents don't want to see a billboard there.

The council granted the billboard request Monday by approving changes to the zoning ordinance regarding billboards, including allowing one more than the 12 currently permitted in the city.

Additionally, the council allowed the sign to be closer to residential property than normally is permitted.

Fifth Ward Alderman Carla Brookman successfully proposed amendments that will require some preliminary site and construction work to be completed before the billboard can go up.

Even so, Brookman joined Chester and 7th Ward Alderman Patsy Smith in opposing final approval of the developers' requests Monday.

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