Buffalo Grove residents familiar with the shopping centers bookending the village's Lake-Cook Road corridor probably thought they were seeing a mirage when they first glanced at the village's vision for the corridor.
On Thursday evening at village hall, village planners and consultants unveiled a draft vision for the corridor that presented ambitious plans for Chase Plaza at Arlington Heights Road and Lake-Cook Road and the Town Center at McHenry Road, Buffalo Grove Road and Lake-Cook Road.
That emphasis was very different from a developer's plan rejected three years ago for a $320 million project built around the Buffalo Grove Golf Club that would have required a tax subsidy of as much as $100 million.
In the new plan, everything is on the table, even moving village hall and the police station to the east end of the corridor.
Under the draft plan, the Town Center, which recently took a huge hit with the exit of Binny's to Wheeling, would be transformed into a walkable city center with a new two-way Main Street, a public plaza, as well as restaurant, retail and entertainment venues, with residential development lining the street.
Chase Plaza, which exhibits a gaping hole where the Dominick's grocery store used to be, would be modernized into a retail plaza and office park.
The central part of the corridor wasn't overlooked, with plans suggesting a new east-west roadway along Church Road by St. Mary Parish and the police station, with redevelopment of the existing municipal campus, which contains village hall, for residential and retail uses. The golf course or some form of open space would be retained.
As for the police department and village hall, they could be integrated into the redeveloped Town Center.
Reactions from residents who wandered the room looking at plans ran the gamut.
"It has potential," Johnathan Bennett said. "I just doubt they'll actually pull the trigger and do it. Buffalo Grove is known for being slow."
Denice Bocek, a former member of the village's plan commission, said she likes the direction and suggested, "Chase Plaza might be the best place to start. I would start there. That's the easy, low-hanging fruit. But Town Center is going to be a big undertaking."
Donald Peterson alluded to the late, unlamented downtown Buffalo Grove proposal when he said, "This one was very well thought out, compared to the last development they tried to push through. I can see bumps in the road, but it's doable."
Skip Glatt agreed.
"They wanted to take the golf course out completely. They wanted to start with the golf course," he said. "The village, I believe, now is listening to the residents. All the residents are saying, 'Fix the Town Center. Fix that first.'"
Steve Hannibal called the plan old fashioned and said he would like to see a high-tech industrial park.
"This is all about more retail space. Retail is changing dramatically, through the internet (and) Amazon," he said.
Dave Fitzsimmons, who said he works in commercial real estate, echoed those remarks, saying, "Retail is a dying industry. More and more retailers are looking to downsize their footprints."
Residents, on the other hand, were pleased about the protection of open space.
"My favorite part is they're leaving the golf course alone," Mary Carroll said.