As Lake Zurich officials seek to consolidate the town’s Main Street area, the village council has been presented with two redevelopment proposals that would bring retail space and a cannabis dispensary – to which the administrators all seemed open.
A proposal presented at the Feb. 5 meeting called for the redevelopment of commercial space on Old Rand Road and Main Street. The second involved a cannabis store in a vacant storefront at the Oakwood Commons shopping center, 680 Route 22.
Both presentations were informational only and the board took no action. Proponents of the respective projects sought to gauge board support for the potential plans, and trustees and the mayor appeared supportive of both ideas.
“Making our Main Street District a greater destination has been a primary goal of our community for many years,” Kyle Kordell, director of village management services, told the Pioneer Press in an email after the village board meeting. “We have made great strides in this direction over the past several years and we believe this proposal is another step in the right direction.”
The Old Rand Road project was presented by a representative of True North Properties, a Chicagoland real estate development group. The representative explained that the developer would update and improve the facade of existing retail businesses in the area and possibly add a drive-thru feature.
Currently there is an ice cream parlor and a shoe repair shop on the site. Nick Leremuic, son of True North’s owner, said there are no plans to evict current commercial tenants if the redevelopment proposal gains board approval.
The plan would modernize the exterior of the small shopping center without affecting certain elements, including the parking lot, the developer said. Leremuic proposed raising the ceilings, although most of the work would consist of exterior updates, including a stone facade and large windows in the spaces.
Mayor Tom Poynton said the proposed investment would not be small and he questioned how True North would make a profit on a remediation project.
Leremuic agreed and said the only way this makes sense is if the company retains the current property and tenants at least for now.
“So this money that is being invested now is helping to beautify and modernize the place,” he said. “We are looking to retain our tenants.”
He said his company plans to own the property for years and if current businesses were to leave, the space would be easy to rent or lease to new businesses.
“Over the years, the numbers would balance out as we owned and managed the property and kept it that way,” Leremuic said.
At this time, True North is not requesting any zoning changes for the property.
Kordell said that, based on the broad consensus on the goals of True North and village leaders, he expects the board to formally consider the project in March.
The other project the village council heard about was a cannabis dispensary. It received a similarly positive reaction from the board, although its future seems less clear.
Ashley Thullen, CEO of Brightside, and Tim Duffy, CEO of Tofino Shoreline Partners, were both at the meeting to present the idea, although Tofino will not have much to do with the project.
Tofino Shoreline holds a desired cannabis dispensary license from Brightside. But under state law, Tofino cannot sell the license without having an operational physical location attached to the license. So Brightside would manage the property and its development until Tofino could sell it and the license to Brightside, company leaders explained.
Yet none of the board members had any serious objections to the development of an empty retail space. Officials said plans for the cannabis dispensary would have to go before the village’s planning and zoning commission.
“It is far from certain at this point, but applicants Tofino Shoreline Partners and Briteside can now proceed to a future public hearing with the Planning and Zoning Commission, which is scheduled to take place March 20 at the village hall,” Kordell said in the release. E-mail.
Trustee William Riley said at the board meeting that he was concerned that children might become interested in the dispensary by walking past or hanging out at a nearby 7-Eleven convenience store or pizza place. He also noted that there are already several dispensaries in the area.
But Thullen maintained that she supports teaching “responsible cannabis use to children” and said more dispensaries do not mean more users.
“Having more bars in your town doesn’t mean you have more drinkers, it just means you have more bars to go to,” she said.
Thullen’s company is preparing to open two dispensaries, one in south suburban Chicago Heights and another in the southern Illinois town of Carbondale.
Trustee Greg Weider asked Thullen what made Lake Zurich attractive. She said she loves the community.
“It’s obvious to me that you have a big heart here,” she said. “And it’s beautiful. Why wouldn’t I want to be a part of it?
Poynton joked that she should do more than just set up a dispensary.
“You could also buy a house here,” he said.
All joking aside, Poynton seemed to like the idea of the dispensary, given that the current location is vacant.
“Whatever you do, it’s going to be a big improvement over what’s out there now,” he said.
Jesse Wright is independent.
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