Though Golf Road remains Schaumburg's primary commercial corridor, a 10-year high in its vacancy rate that was reached last December has inspired village officials to consider different standards to strengthen the economic power of those 3.8 miles.
The 11.2% vacancy rate at the end of 2019 has since improved to 7.4%, but the changing circumstances of the U.S. retail industry as demand for service-oriented businesses grows led village board members and staff to discuss potential changes to land-use regulations along Golf Road Tuesday.
Economic Development Director Matt Frank said the preference is to re-use vacant buildings when possible as a new tenant may recognize value in an existing structure. But a dilemma is created for the village when a less lucrative business like a children's entertainment venue seeks to move into the former Toys R Us building where much more sales tax revenue was once generated, he said.
Trustee Marge Connelly said she would lean toward allowing such a business over years of possible vacancy, in part because it attracts people to other businesses nearby.
But Mayor Tom Dailly said the village couldn't maintain its current level of services by sacrificing too many of the revenue-generating properties along Golf Road. He also expressed similar concerns about caving to the demand for more drive-through restaurants near Woodfield Mall.
"If we can figure out a balance, I'm OK with it," Dailly said. "I'm just absolutely opposed to turning our main retail corridor ... into a fast-food location. I don't think that's what Schaumburg is about. I'd like to preserve some of that."
Staff were directed to continue studying how other commercial corridors have adapted to changing times. But Mitch Goltz, a representative of GW Properties, said his firm's plans to redevelop the former Macy's Furniture Gallery at the northwest corner of Golf and Meacham roads into five buildings for restaurants or retail already has some tenant commitments and could be done within existing standards.
But Tim Gallagher, who owns other prominent sites along Golf Road, suggested that allowing residential development next to Woodfield Mall after the pandemic could build up a stronger customer base for the area and attract back some of the young workforce that previously moved into Chicago.