Banquet hall proposed for former Cubby Bear North in Lincolnshire

An entrepreneur wants to open a banquet hall at the former Cubby Bear North sports bar in Lincolnshire.

The proposed business would be called Loft 21 and would operate in the 31,000-square-foot building at 21661 N. Milwaukee Ave. The two-story, western-looking structure has stood unused since the Cubby Bear closed in January 2014.

Professional event planner Trisha Gonzalez-Bumpass is set to buy the site from longtime owner George Loukas and convert it into a facility for weddings, bar mitzvah celebrations, conferences, corporate events and other gatherings. The transaction is under contract, she said.

Gonzalez-Bumpass, who also goes by the name Jazmine Gonzalez professionally, has worked in event planning for more than 23 years and runs Northbrook-based Hype Productions.

Many of Gonzalez-Bumpass' clients live in North Shore communities, and they often go to Chicago venues when they need banquet halls for upscale events, she said. Loft 21 could keep that business in the suburbs.

"Instead of them traveling to the city, I figured, let's create (a venue) in their own backyard," said Gonzalez-Bumpass, of Crown Point, Indiana.

She is especially keen on the site's high-traffic location. Milwaukee Avenue is one of Lake County's most-traveled roadways, and the building is between Route 22 and Deerfield Road - both are exits on the Tri-State Tollway.

Hype Productions would relocate to Lincolnshire if the deal goes through. Gonzalez-Bumpass has proposed spending $2.5 million to renovate the outside and interior of the building.

New signs and landscaping and facade changes are among the planned changes, Village Manager Brad Burke said. Perhaps most significantly, the building's prominent front porch would be redesigned.

"That's our southern gateway into the village, and the petitioner's proposed updates to the property will be a significant improvement to the streetscape in that location," he said.

For the plan to progress, Lincolnshire officials need to rezone the site from residential to general business. Additionally, a special-use permit is needed to allow the type of business envisioned.

Village officials annexed the property into Lincolnshire in January, along with the nearby Par-King Skill Golf Course. Both had been in unincorporated Lake County.

Annexation gave Lincolnshire officials control over any future development there, as well as property-tax revenue and potential sales tax revenue.

Trustees voiced support for the proposal Monday during a committee-of-the-whole meeting, Burke said.

"(It's) a great reuse for an existing structure that's been vacant for a long time," he said.

The plan has been sent to the village's zoning board and architectural review board for additional consideration. It could come back to the village board for approval this summer, Burke said.

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  The Cubby Bear North in Lincolnshire closed in January 2014. Paul Valade/
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