High retail vacancies and an aging population were among the hot topics discussed as Buffalo Grove trustees examined the draft of a market study of the Lake-Cook Road corridor.
In presenting the Lake Cook Corridor Market Study and Existing Conditions Report, consultants bombarded the village board with data Monday, covering issues ranging from marketing to land use.
They also offered conclusions, among them that the corridor could support a mixed-use retail center; additional housing, especially targeted toward young professionals and retirees; upgraded and possibly new office space; limited hotel development; and additional medical offices if tied to a larger health-care anchor.
The major challenge -- some might say obstacle -- will be a retail corridor bracketed on the west end by Chase Plaza, with its gaping vacancy left by the loss of Dominick's, and on the east end by the Buffalo Grove Town Center, which suffered a major loss with exit of Binny's.
Christian Beaudoin, a consultant with Jones Lang LaSalle, said the retail vacancy in the corridor is greater than 17 percent, more than double the rate in the Chicago suburban region and in the United States suburban region. More than 574,000 square feet is available. "Complex ownership issues" add to the problem, he said.
The corridor's strengths include its demographics, with a highly educated population (more than 60 percent have a bachelor's degree), low unemployment (4.5 percent) and high median household ($117,000). But with 42 percent of the village's population over 50, the age group 50-69 is overrepresented, while the 18-34 group is underrepresented.
"Can we expect that to change as we emerge from the recession?" Trustee Joanne Johnson asked. "Will we see more people selling their homes?"
Beaudoin predicted little change because the residential mix leans toward owner-occupied single-family housing, not the rental units that would serve the 18-34 market.
Another strength Beaudoin cited was high traffic exposure, with more than 40,000 vehicles per day on Lake-Cook Road.
Domenic Salpietra, with the firm HOK, the corridor's diversity of land uses is something the village can capitalize on in its planning, while the mix of architectural styles would benefit from a plan that calls for greater consistency and offers a sense of place. He said the road network offers some challenges with left-hand turns and with the Town Center itself blocking access from Old Checker Road to McHenry Road.
The next steps will include making the report available on the project's website and working to develop future land use alternatives that will be shared at a future public meeting.