Institute recommends commercial real estate changes to Chicago suburb

A study recommended to a Chicago suburb said to build commercial real estate around the Post Office.

A recent study from Urban Land Institute could catalyze commercial real estate changes in Winnetka, Ill., a northern suburb of Chicago.

Urban Land Institute recommended some new plans to the village council in order to aid Winnetka's commercial stability. The focal point of the plan was to refresh three commercial districts in Winnetka: Indian Hill, East/West Elm and Hubbard Woods.

"I like what the (institute) had to say," Terry Dason, executive director of the Winnetka/Northfield Chamber of Commerce, told the Chicago Tribune. "I liked the out of the box thinking."

The Urban Land Institute surveyed selected sites within the city to help design a strategy for the redevelopment of commercial sites not being used properly, including obsolete, underutilized or vacant sites.

"They were very creative in their thought processes," Dason said. "They were saying things that have already been discussed for years at village council meeting and with the chamber."

The institute proposed ideas to better incorporate existing commercial properties into the community.

The Post Office site in the Elm Street district, the area around a Land Rover dealership in the Indian Hill District, and the park and nearby commercial area in the Hubbard Woods district were all extensively studied.

"Hopefully the report will reinforce the urgency behind the post office site and redeveloping that and making it a more viable space for the community," said Dason.

Urban Land Institute also provided a strategy to cross-promote businesses in each district. The institute set forth potential strategies to spur investors to existing buildings and to draw consumers to particular areas with community events.

"When they redevelop an area like the post office site, they really want us to think about what would bring energy and people into the community to make it more friendly to people meeting and greeting and talking to each other and hanging out," said Dason.

Take it and run
Dason said the village council is heeding the advice and will not sit on its laurels. Since the reports came out, the council can appoint different groups to carry out some of the recommendations.

"What we are going to try and do is take some of those ideas that (the institute) suggested and try to do research on trying to make things happen," said Dason. "For example, doing something with Hubbard Woods Park because that's so centrally located near the Metra and within the business community. It's a beautiful location. Something should be done with that piece of property to bring people together in our community."

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