Celebrity chef, developer have a plan for prime downtown Lake Zurich spot

Can a proven developer and celebrity chef at last deliver an acceptable project to a prime property in downtown Lake Zurich?

Village officials again have their fingers crossed that the latest proposal can be the answer for property acquired more than 20 years ago and envisioned as a spark for downtown redevelopment.

Miller Street Partners with restaurateur Fabio Viviani are pitching a mixed-use development of 56 apartments and two restaurants for vacant property known as Block A at 153 W. Main St., across from the Lake Zurich promenade.

Details would be refined and questions concerning amenities, building height, traffic, parking and other considerations would need to be addressed. But the concept, presented this past week to the village board during a courtesy review, appears to check the boxes.

“We look forward to this moving forward or whatever happens with it quickly,” said Mayor Tom Poynton. “It looks positive and the fact you’re potentially partnering with Consume is another positive.”

Celebrity chef brings new Italian steakhouse home to Lake Zurich

Poynton was addressing Romeo Kapudija, the founding partner of Miller Street and developer of The Sanctuary on Lake Zurich townhouse complex on the southeast corner of Rand and Old Rand roads, and Viviani, who has 40 restaurant concepts nationally and opened Lago, an Italian steakhouse, at the Sanctuary in March.

Consume is a bottle shop and gastropub that has operated at Route 22 and Rand Road in town for more than seven years. Owners last fall proposed a plan to move and redevelop Block A for a retail/restaurant.

Lakefront 'Sanctuary' development gets final approval from Lake Zurich leaders

However, Consume couldn't establish sufficient financing for the project and the plan stalled.

“The board’s direction is to develop the land so we started to look at other opportunities,” explained Michael Duebner, assistant village manager.

That’s been the idea since the village in the early 2000s acquired the 1.6-acre lakefront property, cleared two bars and homes there and put the land on the market.

'Exactly what people have been talking about': 2-story spot with restaurant planned in Lake Zurich

During the courtesy review, Kapudija said he was approached “literally every day” by people who wanted to rent the units, some offering “astronomical” prices. Viviano, who also is opening Giostra at The Arboretum of South Barrington this summer, says Lago already has served 50,000 guests and has 20,000 reservations going out 10 weeks.

It’s that track record that has elicited cautious optimism.

Poynton, who has been on the board since 2007 and served as mayor since 2013, opened the discussion Tuesday by noting the village has seen many concept presentations over the years of what could be built on Block A.

“Some were not a good fit and others we’ve liked a lot,” he said. “At the end, not everything that looks good on paper is financially viable.”

Because of high interest rates and rising material and labor rates, some projects are not achievable despite a developer’s best intentions, he added.

Representatives of the LG Group, which also was scheduled to present a proposal Tuesday for Block A, didn’t show and the village subsequently was told the plan had been dropped. No reason was given.

However, another interested party has surfaced and is expected to appear for a courtesy review on June 17, Duebner said.

The Miller Street/Viviani concept calls for 14,900 square feet of retail space and two restaurants. One potentially could be a Consume endeavor and the other a “different alternative to Lago” that isn't as high-end, Viviani said.

“Not everybody with a deep portfolio makes it in this business and not everybody with a good idea has the money to develop it. Well, we have both,” he said.

The residential portion would be rentals with a modern design featuring floor-to-ceiling windows and a potential four-season rooftop deck, among other features.

“Our emphasis of the design was surrounding the lake — we wanted the view to be seen by all who would live there,” Kapudija said.

The partners said they are awaiting consultant reports but plan to continue the process.

“We’re definitely going to pursue this property,” Kapudija said.

A rendering shows a proposal by Miller Street Partners in partnership with restaurateur Fabio Viviani for a mix of retail and residential uses, including two restaurants, on a long-vacant parcel in downtown Lake Zurich known as Block A. Courtesy of village of Lake Zurich
A site plan shows a proposed mixed-use development of two restaurants and 56 apartments at 153 W. Main St., in downtown Lake Zurich. Courtesy of village of Lake Zurich
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.