The owner of the Dimucci property at Route 12 and Old McHenry Road near Hawthorn Woods is seeking a two-year extension to find a developer and submit final plans for a shopping center on the site.
Seven years after Lake County approved zoning changes to allow commercial development, securing a developer interested in the 109-acre property has been a challenge for its owners.
While the interest level has risen, more time is needed to land a developer and secure construction approvals, according to Robert Dimucci, manager for the property owner, RK123 LLC.
In a letter to Eric Waggoner, director of the county's planning, building and development department, Dimucci described the situation as "outside the usual" because of strict development parameters.
"There is a definite improvement over the historically bad market conditions of just a few years ago, but it is also fair to say that such interest is tentative, probably due to a slow recovery of the overall economy," Dimucci wrote.
The September 2010 proposal to rezone 109 acres from residential to commercial uses ignited controversy and objections from surrounding residents and communities, as well as the Barrington Area Council of Governments.
After several lengthy public hearings, the county board voted in October 2012 to allow 450,000 square feet of retail and 200,000 square feet of other uses like offices and restaurants. The original proposal sought 800,000 square feet of commercial space.
As part of the approval process, an agreement was reached between the county, Hawthorn Woods and North Barrington to share sales tax revenue when the center is up and running.
The county in 2017 granted a two-year extension on its approval due to "ongoing economic conditions and the continued challenges inherent in planning and executing a project of this scale," according to Waggoner. That extension expires Oct. 9, and now the county board's public works, planning and transportation committee must decide on another extension. The committee meets at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday at the public works maintenance conference room, 648 W. Winchester Road, Libertyville.
The county's planning department supports the extension, noting that even though the rezoning is approved it will not take effect until a final development plan is submitted and approved by the committee.
The approvals call for 53 acres of high-quality commercial development surrounded by 50 acres of permanently designated open space.
Waggoner said the preliminary plan is subject to a variety of standards to ensure a "high-quality, environmentally sensitive and aesthetically compatible" development.
While the Dimucci project retains some of the more traditional or conventional aspects of zoning, it also must adhere to an extensive list of design elements, whose comprehensiveness is unusual in Lake County's development history, Waggoner said.