Village of Northbrook Plan Commission met May 7.
Here is the minutes provided by the commission:
1. CALL TO ORDER
Commissioner Elisco moved and Commissioner Jacobs seconded a motion to approve the minutes as amended for April 16, 2019. On a voice vote, the motion passed unanimously.
3. COMMUNITY PLANNING REPORT
Tom Poupard stated that at the last Board of Trustees Meeting, the Board unanimously approved the M/I Townhome Development on Techny Road as recommended by the Plan Commission. The Board also reviewed a preliminary application, which was a request for a small distillery on Techny Road to expand and have a tasting room. The Board felt that given its location, it was a good idea.
4. HEAR FROM THE AUDIENCE
5. CONTINUED REVIEW OF APPLICATIONS
A. DOCKET NO. PCD-18-16: 1515, 1555, 1775 LAKE COOK RD – NORTHBROOK COURT SHOPPING CENTER (Third Public Hearing). An application filed by Northbrook Anchor Acquisition, LLC along with Westcoast Estates as owner of the properties commonly known as Northbrook Court Shopping Center located at 1555, 1515, and 1775 Lake Cook Road, for the purposes of authorizing the following zoning relief: a) Comprehensive Plan Amendment to Designate the Subject Property as Appropriate for Mixed Uses; b) Zoning Code Text Amendment to Section 5-109 B concerning reference to the Site Plan for Northbrook Court; c) Zoning Code Text Amendment to Section 5-102 to allow Multi-Family Residential as a special permit use and other permitted and special permit uses in the C-4 District; d) Zoning Code Text Amendment to modify Section 5-110 E concerning the Transitional Setback Requirements for the C-4 District; e) Zoning Code Text Amendment to Section 5-110 to increase the maximum allowed Height in the C-4 District to 80’; f) Zoning Code Text Amendment to Section 9-104 C. 3 (i) to allow for a reduction in parking stall dimensions for stalls located in a residential parking garage; g) Special Permit for a Multi-Family Residential structure with up to 315 dwelling units; h) Special Permit for Multiple Buildings on a Single Zoning Lot; i) Variation to reduce the required rear setback from 150’ to 100'; j) Approval of Tentative Plat of Subdivision; and k) Approval of such other zoning relief as may be necessary.
Michaela Kohlstedt reported that the subject property consists of the west end of the Northbrook Court Shopping Center, which is zoned C4. The applicant has returned with a revised plan. Comments that were heard during the second public hearing included concern with the overall height of the residential building, along the southern property line, as well as the distance of the proposed residential building from the rear property line. The revised design being presented this evening, has moved the residential building and shifted it north approximately thirty feet. The grocer building shifted slightly to the north as well, which resulted in a reconfiguration of the parking field located north of the grocery store. The building for restaurants was reconfigured with a minor change in the shape. The applicant, in addition to shifting the residential building north, created a larger landscape buffer on the south end of the residential building, to hide some of the parking and on the fifth level of the building, a step back was included as recommended by the Plan Commission. With the units that were lost with these modifications to the building, the developer made a new small wing, located on the north side of the apartment building in an area that does not have a direct impact on the properties to the south. Another concern that was raised during the previous public hearings were for the applicant to provide adaptive reuse plans for the 70,000 sq. ft. grocery building being proposed. The applicant will address this during his presentation tonight. The requested relief remains similar to the original notice, with the most significant change being the rear setback variation, which was originally a request form 150’ to 73’ it is now a request to just over 100’.
Adam Tripp with Brookfield Properties, stated he has met with the neighborhood groups and they listened to their concerns. Mr. Tripp explained their redevelopment vision and what they are trying to accomplish at Northbrook Court. The Commission was shown new aerial views of the property and which parcels are restricted for building, as well as the area which they are focused on for their proposed redevelopment. Mr. Tripp discussed the grocery market study and stated that touching on national trends, grocery stores are more e-commerce resistant than other retail categories. Malls across the country are adding grocers to offer diversity to their tenant mix. In Northbrook, food store sales have increased from $68 million in 1999 to $142 million in 2017. Grocery store shopping trips are more frequent than other forms of retail and encourage cross shopping at Northbrook Court. Brookfield Properties has done fifteen grocery store locations in eleven states, with greater than 900,000 square feet of total retail area with fourteen different grocery operators and have eleven additional grocery stores currently in development in six states. There were questions raised at previous hearings relating to the grocery store and what would happen to the building if the grocer didn’t work out. One option would be to break up the building and create some smaller northern facing retail and the larger portion would be some other use facing the parking lot. The Commission was shown examples of retail redevelopment case studies that were other former anchor stores decommissioned into smaller retail spaces or redesigned as new stores.
Mr. Tripp further explained some of the shaping of the site as they have it proposed. He stated there are sanitary infrastructure issues that prevent them from moving further west. Brookfield Properties after listening to neighbor’s issues, addressed the request of moving the residential to the north side of the property but the challenge with this location is that it cuts off retail traffic and visibility to Lake Cook Road, and the grocery store would be blocked off from line of sight. Another plan looked at was to flip flop the grocer and the residential, which creates a more condensed plan and leaves the grocer with insufficient parking and loading areas and moves it closer to residents in the south which is less than ideal. If the residential was moved west over the existing sanitary sewer, it would give the grocer building a more ideal space not having to deal with the grade change. The residential would comply with the setbacks, but unfortunately this creates a bunch of uses scattered around with not much synergy or interaction.
Dan Walsh with Ryan Companies presented the proposed site plan changes. Mr. Walsh stated that after the last Plan Commission Meeting, they met with the neighbors and the neighbors proposed three options: Move the residential to the north, move the residential 150’ away or purchase their homes. Mr. Walsh stated that they listened to their concerns and understand their concerns and they are here today to propose a plan that they believe minimizes the impact to the neighbors. The new plan pushes the residential building north 27 feet, the grocer was pushed north 27 feet. The retail and restaurant building on the north side of the great lawn gets redesigned. The landscape area south of the facade has been increased, which will allow them to berm that area to fully conceal the lower level parking. The top floors of the residential buildings were stepped back by 18 feet to further soften the south façade, and we will install a small north wing on the north side of the property. The Commission was shown a series of images depicting the proposed changes.
Chairman Franklin asked where the building is stepped back, what the distance is from the lower portion to where the next floor is. Mr. Walsh responded that the step back is set back 18 feet.
Chairman Franklin asked if it was the intention that this development will all occur in the space where Macy’s is or will there be more demolition on that end of the mall. Mr. Tripp responded that there is a little bit of mall demolition to make way for the project to help create flow, access and sight lines.
Commissioner Melnick asked where the entrance to the mall is, inside of the open space area. Mr. Tripp responded that it’s to the right of the copper vertical image.
Commissioner Melnick asked if the grocery entrance will be on the west or north side. Mr. Tripp responded that there would be two entrances.
Commissioner DeBartolo asked how long it will take to develop this project. Mr. Tripp responded that if all goes as planned, they would begin the project this August and take about two years to complete.
Commissioner Lawrence asked if there is a spot in the plans for children to play. Mr. Tripp believes that the open space and lawn space would be perfect for child play. Mr. Walsh said that the target market is expected to be active adults and young professionals and doesn’t expect to see many children.
Commissioner Hebl asked if there was anything in the plan; for example, a walkway for Countryside residents to be able to stroll to the movies, grocery store or restaurants and not have to use their cars. Mr. Tripp stated that there is a footpath that connects Countryside to the shopping center and they are open to enhancing and improving it, but the neighbors were not really open to increasing foot traffic in the area.
Commissioner Jacobs asked if the residential setback could go further back as it appears to have more square footage now. Mr. Walsh responded that the total building square footage is very close to the original plan submitted in March.
Ken Smith, 1802 Walnut St., Northbrook - Mr. Smith doesn’t feel that it is a great idea to enhance the walking path located in Countryside. Moving the residence building 28 feet further back is not acceptable to the residents. The consensus in the neighborhood is that everyone is against the residence building the way it stands. The neighbors want to see this project go through but not at the height of the residence buildings. They are basically too close and too high.
Leonard Ginsberg, 215 Hickory Court, Northbrook - Mr. Ginsberg is also speaking on behalf of Mr. Balfour, 212 Hickory Court and Mrs. Curtser, 45 Chestnut, all residents of Glenbrook Countryside. At the last meeting, Commissioner DeBartolo made a comment that the residents that moved into Glenbrook Countryside thirty years ago, should have understood that Northbrook Court is not a permanent structure and that things change and evolve. Mr. Ginsberg stated that when he moved into Glenbrook Countryside, some twenty plus years ago, Northbrook Court was a permanent structure as permanent as the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. No one could have predicted the impact of e-commerce, Amazon, etc. A redesign of this project should have started with a clean page not just animating buildings back and forth. He doesn’t feel the developer did any serious changes other than cosmetic to try and correct the concerns of the neighbors. Many children that reside in Countryside walk to Northbrook Court to shop or go to the movies through the south side of the property, and he would be nervous about his children walking past a residence of active adults who are renters and do not have a connection with the community.
Mark Lenz, Attorney representing landowners immediately south of the residential complex, there addresses are 214, 220 and 232 Linden Road. His clients understand the need for redevelopment of Northbrook Court, but this is a proposed 80’ building which impacts his client’s privacy and may impact their property values. He is willing to sit down with the developer and the Village Zoning Staff and work out an acceptable compromise.
Janice Gould, 332 Powder Horn Drive, which is southeast of Northbrook Court along with 157 other homes. Speaking on behalf of Williamsburg Square Home Owners Association. She would like to have on record that when the plan is finalized, there be a traffic study done.
Ken Slepicka, 2215 Illinois Road, a twenty-year resident of Northbrook, stated that he believes that Northbrook Court needs a redesign. If we lose Northbrook Court, taxes will go up 25%. You can’t make everyone happy but sometimes you must do what’s right for the whole.
Sally Guregian, 316 Cottonwood which is in Glenbrook Countryside. She states that she lives in a house that is not directly impacted but still has concerns. She is unhappy with the height of the residential building and its location. She is also concerned about the grocery store becoming another empty box store and she is concerned about the lack of lighting in the courtyards.
Julie Godnick, 1920 Walnut Circle wants to know if on the berm, the new trees will be saplings or full-grown trees. There doesn’t seem to be any accessibility options by the proposed restaurants for handicapped people. She also asked if there will be any landscape coverage on the west side where there is 100’ setback.
The resident from 1915 Beechnut in Glenbrook Countryside stated this project is a disaster for Glenbrook Countryside, they will lose safety, and traffic will be huge. There needs to be more proposals.
Cary Wineman, Hickory Court, stated that he loves Northbrook and is concerned that the new proposal for Northbrook Court may change the quality of life he loves in Northbrook. He moved into his home because they were single family houses on half acre lots, not multifamily homes. He is not happy about having an 80-foot building 75 feet from his property line. He is requesting that the variance going from 50 to 80 feet and the setback not be approved. Please do not vote until there is a plan that everyone can live with.
Mr. Labella 1931 Oakwood Road stated that he is not directly affected by the building, but traffic currently on Lake Cook Road is very difficult to try and go in and out of the mall. He questioned what it will be like after this project. He is worried that once traffic becomes an issue, people will decide to cut through his road to help the traffic flow. Maybe the builder could drop the height of the residence building and drop the number of tenants. This would alleviate many of the problems the neighbors currently have.
Louise Ristow, 1910 Walnut Circle states that there are at least eight to ten amendments to the Codes that the developer wants done; weren’t they aware of the Codes before they took on this project? Why does Northbrook need another 70,000 sq. ft. grocery store? The footpath is a bush covered, litter covered walkway with an unknown drug dealer in the area.
Harout Papazzian, 302 Linden Road in the Countryside Community. Mr. Papazzio stated that he has lived in Glenbrook Countryside since 1992 and has peacefully coexisted with what is now Northbrook Court. He strongly opposes the zoning change. He did not see any substantial changes in the developer’s redesign. Having a massive apartment complex so close to Glenbrook Countryside will adversely affect the residents in the area.
Jim Becket, 232 Linden Road appreciates the work the developers have done in making changes but feels it can be better. He read that the parent company of Lord and Taylor may be selling some of its buildings and they will be redeveloped. Maybe it would be a better idea to wait and redevelop Northbrook Court all at once. His house is currently for sale and he is worried about the value. He spoke with a residential appraiser and she didn’t even want to touch it or guess at what the value deterioration will be. She suggested getting a commercial appraiser to get a true value of how much house will depreciate in the area.
Mr. Chhatriwala of 214 Linden Road said the backside of his property overlooks Macys. He thanked the Plan Commission for hearing their concerns. The developers redesign still has the apartment building too close and too high. He requested the building be moved to a different section because homes in the area are being adversely affected by this. The applicant is seeking major variances, and these should not be approved.
Maximino Caballero 220 Linden Road, showed the Plan Commission photos of the development from his property and a comparison chart of condominiums/apartments in the area and their proximity to residential homes. This proposal is too close, too high.
Adam Tripp addressed some of the concerns raised by the neighbors. He stated that all 400 designated parking spaces for the residents will be within that parcel. Security seems to be an issue that was raised and stated that there will be security assigned to the apartment complex. His organization takes security very seriously.
Motion and second to close the public hearing. All in favor.
Commissioner Elisco stated that previously, the project was not going to be approved with the height of the building and the proposed setback. The compromise the Commission proposed was to move the building further north and reduce the height of the building by using a step- back design. The developer has done what was asked so, in his opinion he would approve the project as presented. With the berm and landscaping the building visually will not be 80 feet, it is 52 feet with the 18 foot step-back.
Commissioner Melnick appreciates the changes the developer made but he still doesn’t feel they have done enough. This project needs to be done but there needs to be another try at a redesign. As it stands now, he cannot vote yes on it.
Commissioner DeBartolo agrees with Commissioner Elisco. He stated that they are a Commission to advise; they are small snippet of the community and they share the same passion for the community. Retail in the nation is changing and something must happen, we need to be innovative.
Commissioner Lawrence appreciates the developer’s time on making changes. She feels it is very close but feels that the project is being driven by the grocery store. The community is telling you that a grocery store isn’t going to work. She is very concerned.
Commissioner Hebl stated that she is satisfied with what the developers came back with. She thinks this is a good idea, it may not be perfect, but she does support this project.
Commissioner Pepoon stated that it is very important that Northbrook Court doesn’t go dark.
He feels the location of the apartment building is in the right place and thanked the developers for pushing it back. He feels the height of the apartment building closest to the south end is still about one story too high. In general, he very much supports the project.
Commissioner Jacobs thanked the developer and the community for their time. He would like to see some more reduction in the plans from the developer, but they did move it a little further away from the neighbors in the south and they did step it back to reduce the overall mass. He believes they made a good effort to come with a plan that works for the community.
Chairman Franklin agrees with a lot of what was said by the Commissioners and thanked everyone for coming out to speak and that the Commission does listen and learn from them. The developer did listen and came back with some real changes. She feels we’ve gone as far as we can go here. It is her recommendation that staff prepare a Resolution.
Motion and second to have staff prepare a Resolution recommending approval of Docket No. PCD-18-16: 1550, 1555, 1775 Lake Cook Road, Northbrook Court Shopping Center as presented this evening. Approved on a roll call vote.
6. OLD BUSINESS
On voice vote, a motion to adjourn passed unanimously.
Adjourned at 9:59 p.m.