The village of Buffalo Grove and developers have long seen the area around the Prairie View Metra station as ripe for development, but the vision has fallen short due to, among other factors, the limited number of trains operating on Metra's North Central service.
Now the village board has given the staff the go-ahead to negotiate a professional services agreement with RATIO, a multidisciplinary design practice with offices in several cities, including Chicago, to oversee the development of a plan for the area at a cost estimated at $50,000.
Project Director Lesley Roth said the area has the potential to "offer unique business attraction and branding opportunities that will leverage it into a destination for area families and visitors to use and enjoy."
Community Development Director Christopher Stilling said the target area includes the nearby Vernon Township offices, the new Easton Station development and dozens of acres of undeveloped land. But he said the village might want to back away from the phrase transit-oriented development (TOD), which has been invoked by some in previous efforts to develop in the area.
"I don't know if TOD is necessarily the right word. Communities have a tendency to use the term TOD as an excuse to approve density," he said. Trustee Jeffrey Berman echoed Stilling, saying, "TOD has been used as an euphemism for give me more density and I object strenuously, as Mr. Stilling knows, to using that as a pretense to simply put more density for residential.
"Either bring a whole package and all the amenities that are supposed to go with it to create a walkable, sustainable, livable multiuse area so that people get out of their cars, because that is the real point of the TOD, or don't call it TOD or any euphemism like TOD."
Trustee Andrew Stein brought up concerns about train service, particularly the lack of weekend service.
Stilling said mixed uses could include those that serve not only commuters, but also residents in and around the area. And residential development will prod Metra to improve service, he said.
Berman said communities along the North Central line are lobbying Metra for more service.
"All of the communities that are serviced by that line have a lot at stake in seeing that line succeed in drawing residents and drawing commuters," he said.