Plan to redevelop Lincolnshire cineplex inches forward

Despite lingering questions from some village officials, a plan to raze half of Lincolnshire's Regal Cinemas movie house and build a 302-unit apartment complex is moving forward.

Trustees this week sent the proposal to the town's architectural review board, an early but important step in the development process.

The village board's recommendation doesn't mean the panel approved the plan. Trustees will have final say on the matter, after a formal public hearing and more discussions.

And some officials remain concerned about the proposed size of the apartment buildings, the impact on traffic flow and other issues.

"I think it needs more vetting," Mayor Elizabeth Brandt said.

Regal is a key attraction at the City Park shopping center, on the southwest corner of Milwaukee Avenue and Aptakisic Road. However, ticket sales have been sliding at the 18-year-old theater, a Regal representative told trustees during an initial discussion last month, and the company is weighing shuttering the site if profits don't improve.

Developer Scott Greenberg of the ECD Company - the firm that developed City Park and owns the Regal building - has proposed a solution.

He wants to knock down half the Regal structure and put up a two-building, luxury apartment complex. The buildings also would occupy land that's now a parking lot for Regal.

Greenberg's plan would reduce the number of Regal's screens from 21 to 15. Regal's enormous IMAX theater would remain.

Regal supports the proposal. Representatives have said the company will upgrade the seating and other elements in the remaining theaters if the plan is approved.

Several village officials were cool to the residential side of the plan during the January meeting. Some questioned if Greenberg would be able to find enough tenants to fill the buildings.

Greenberg and the village board took up the issue again Monday during a committee-of-the-whole meeting. This time, Greenberg revealed he plans to put up the buildings one at a time. He also said his company would front Regal the money needed to renovate the theaters and lower Regal's rent if the plan goes through.

Modernizing the Regal auditoriums is good for the company and nearby businesses, he said.

"(It) assures the surrounding retailers, restaurants and other commercial property owners that a vital retail anchor will remain viable for the long term, which generates continued confidence for these retailers to invest in Lincolnshire," Greenberg said.

Trustees eventually opted to send the project to the architectural board, which reviews design elements for commercial and industrial construction proposals, and condominium or apartment building plans.

After that board considers the plan, it will bounce back to the village board for a formal public hearing and potential approval, Village Manager Brad Burke said.

Although she expressed concerns about traffic and other issues, Brandt believes an upscale apartment building could lure tenants who work at some of the corporations in Lincolnshire.

New residents could pump money into the businesses at City Park, too, she said.

"From a financial standpoint, it makes a lot of sense," Brandt said.

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Rendering of the proposed redevelopment of Regal Cinemas in Lincolnshire. A developer wants to tear down half the cineplex and build a 302-unit apartment complex in its place. Courtesy of Village of Lincolnshire
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