Downtown developer wants to press on in Buffalo Grove

  • Residents filed into last week's Buffalo Grove village board meeting to hear the discussion about redeveloping the village center.

    Residents filed into last week's Buffalo Grove village board meeting to hear the discussion about redeveloping the village center. Steve Zalusky | Staff Photographer

Updated 9/15/2014 5:15 AM

The scope of Buffalo Grove's downtown redevelopment may be getting smaller, but developer Chuck Malk said that with an inspired redesign, the new project will turn out to be even better.

"I'm a little frustrated with the frontage that we may have lost (on Lake-Cook Road)," Malk said, referring to an engineering study which concludes the maximum buildable acreage will be 11 percent less than what Malk's firm, CRM Properties Group, wanted.


"But I think that we can overall make up for that loss of frontage with overall better design."

In August 2012, Malk approached Buffalo Grove with a plan to build a downtown on 65 acres fronting Lake-Cook Road, on land that now holds the village's municipal campus and the Buffalo Grove Golf Course.

The grand plan included a new municipal campus, retail stores, upper-story residences, condominium towers, high-quality public gathering places and cultural activities.

This week's engineering report, however, said that only 58 acres are buildable, and that the available frontage on Lake-Cook is smaller than initially believed.

At last week's village board meeting, Trustee Jeffrey Berman said Malk's original proposal won't work now.

"The proposal we saw from CRM in August of 2012 is effectively dead," he said. "It cannot be built as it was proposed."

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Still, Malk was positive and even optimistic about the future of a downtown development, even one with a smaller footprint.

He said the smaller development, which he estimates at costing about $300 million, will still have everything the bigger footprint had.

Last week's meeting drew a crowd of residents and opponents of the development.

Resident Pam Yeager questioned the possible flooding impact on residents around Manchester Drive.

Roger Kleinfeld, a more than 40-year resident, said he hopes the village asks residents through a referendum, or email vote, whether there is enthusiasm for this development.

"Lacking that, the potential for success of any kind of real estate development is seriously in doubt," Kleinfeld said.

Malk downplayed the opposition, led by the group Save Buffalo Grove.


"Even though there is a group of people put together against it, I really think if you took a ... poll from the entire town, I think the majority of the people really want a downtown," he said.

He said he wants community involvement with the plan.

"This is really a community project," Malk said. "It isn't just CRM Properties putting up a bunch of retail and residential and commercial buildings. It's a big undertaking. It takes a lot of work from a lot of people.

"We know that a community can only take on so much debt," he said. "It's much too early to tell what kind of financial obligation the village of Buffalo Grove is going to have to take on here. Hopefully as little as possible."

The study, by Christopher B. Burke Engineering of Rosemont, showed the development is possible based on the soils and floodplain. It added the area would have ample open space for walking trails, a recreational lake, native and prairie plantings and connections to Lake County Forest Preserve District and Buffalo Grove Park District properties.

Village Manager Dane Bragg said to move forward, the village needs to first do a land plan.

However, the village board is not in complete consensus about the project.

Trustees Andrew Stein and Beverly Sussman said they are curious to see what developers other than Malk might have to offer.

Village President Jeffrey Braiman disagreed with that suggestion, saying Malk came to Buffalo Grove with the idea. "And to take that and say 'Thank you very much' and go out and find somebody else, I don't think that's being very fair to him."

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