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Article posted: 4/4/2013 5:30 AM

Lake Zurich looking to build momentum downtown

By Bob Susnjara

Lake Zurich officials are considering an idea to spark downtown redevelopment with a project on a nearly 2-acre site.

Village trustees are expected to vote April 15 on whether to solicit qualifications from developers interested in revitalizing part of the village's downtown. After examining the developers' credentials, the next step would involve proposals for the village-owned land directly overlooking the namesake lake.

Evanston-based Teska Associates Inc., which specializes in development and revitalization of towns, is assisting Lake Zurich in its effort. At a village board meeting Monday, Teska President Lee Brown said the best course of action for downtown would be to redevelop limited sites rather than a "one-size-fits-all, take-it-or-leave-it approach" for the whole area.

Brown said the most attractive place to start would be the 1.63-acre waterfront property, between Mionske Drive and Lake Street and fronting West Main Street. He said the property is ready for development.

"It was suggested to you that this should be done by building momentum, looking at the site that has the greatest opportunity for success for you and the developer," Brown told the village board.

Under a staff recommendation to the village board, the qualifications would be sought from developers. Responding to a query by Trustee Terry Mastandrea, Brown said the developers should receive 30 days to prepare documents with qualifications, followed by a two-week window for Teska to prepare a summation for the village board.

After the village board meets and reviews the developers, Brown said, the companies deemed to be the best would receive 45 days to submit proposals for the lakefront property.

"The process is intended to be transparent, so that the community can see that there is an opportunity for both local developers and a much broader pool of developers from around the state or the country who might be interested in this site," Brown said. Board members Monday night agreed to delay until April 15 a vote on whether to authorize Teska to start the process of recruiting qualified developers for downtown. They said elected officials should be able to provide feedback to village staff through a Friday deadline regarding the documents Teska would send to developers.

Downtown redevelopment has been a longtime issue in Lake Zurich. Following months of feasibility studies, the Lake Zurich village board in March 2002 approved boundaries for a special taxing district to lure developers to the downtown, but nothing significant has occurred since then because of the weak economy and other factors.

Lake Zurich has what's called a tax increment financing district for downtown. That's where property tax revenue is frozen at a certain amount and any additional revenue goes into public improvements rather than to local governments such as school or park districts.

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