When the former Borders and George’s What’s Cooking became destined to be medical office buildings, Deerfield Mayor Harriet Rosenthal wanted to do something to preserve the retail character of the Village’s Lake Cook Corridor.
The situation was compounded when two large stores at Deerbrook Mall—Best Buy and Wonder!—closed as well. Rosenthal wanted action and asked the Plan Commission to develop a remedy.
The solution developed by the Plan Commission, if it ultimately becomes an ordinance, will ease the way for retailers to open in south Deerfield and will implement some requirements to mandate retail use like the Village has had downtown for more than 20 years.
When Deerfield decided to limit first floor space in the downtown area to primarily retail uses, Rosenthal, then a Trustee, was a major force behind it. She has made it a mission to do the same for the areas around Lake Cook and Waukegan Roads.
“Around 20 years ago I proposed an idea to have first floor retail space in our downtown,” Rosenthal said. “We put in an ordinance that anything that is not retail (on the first floor) needs a special use.” A special use permit can be given to a business after it makes its case to the Village.
If the unanimous recommendation of the Plan Commission made to the Village Board of Trustees Monday becomes an ordinance, businesses who want to locate at Deerbrook, Cadwell Corners, Deer Park Plaza and other locations in the Lake Cook Corridor will have an easier time.
The proposals will increase the size of a store still needing a special use permit, require a certain amount of retail use and exclude existing locations which do not lend themselves to stores or restaurants, according to the Plan Commission suggestions.
“It will put in place mechanisms for large size retail to come in,” Plan Commissioner Rob Nadler said Tuesday. He helped make the presentation Monday. It will make it easier for a store to open quickly. “It is still flexible for non retailers.”
Now, anyone who wants to open a business containing more than 10,000 square feet needs a special use permit. That number will climb to 30,000 square feet under the new proposal. “A store like T.J. Maxx can go right in because it is less than 30,000 square feet,” Nadler said.
One proposal for Deerbrook Mall renovation calls for T.J. Maxx to move from its current interior location to an outside entrance. Should that go through, the retailer will not need any special permission to move.
Nadler thinks these changes will breed a good retail climate. He is the regional president of Kimco, a real estate investment trust which is the largest owner of community and neighborhood shopping centers in North America. “Most retailers feel it is important to be in a center with other retailers,” he said.
Current businesses like the Brunswick Zone, National Tire and Battery, Joy of the Game and the Sachs Recreation Center will be excluded from the proposed requirements. “Those locations are not conducive to retail,” Village Manager Kent Street said at Monday’s meeting.