Glenview trustees approved a $1.9 million purchase and sale agreement resolution at their Tuesday, Nov. 7 village board meeting to purchase the half-acre Patio Shops site at 1755 River Drive.
The real estate purchase closing on the site, with its owner the Rock-Wil Corporation, is expected on Jan. 4, 2024.
The River Drive site was identified as a “spark site” during the Glenview Connect public input process which led to the August 2021 adoption of the Downtown Strategic Plan.
“The village’s intention is to hold onto this parcel until such time as a desirable and feasible redevelopment opportunity can be implemented,” a village report states. The site comes with several existing leases the village would take over.
The parcel sits along the West Fork of the North Branch of the Chicago River just west of the site where Jackman & Co. and a reconfigured parking lot are being developed with village assistance. The site is also across River Drive from the Glenview Veterans Memorial.
The Glenview Connect process identified 10 possible options for how the site might be configured with options ranging from green space configurations to residential, retail, and office uses, along with parking.
Funding for the purchase of the site is coming from the village’s permanent fund, a fund established when Naval Air Station Glenview was closed, and sold by the Navy to the village for a nominal fee in the 1990s. The village then sold that land to a developer for millions of dollars, which would become The Glen.
The permanent fund was recently bolstered with an additional $16 million which came into the fund when the Glen Tax Increment Financing District was retired at the end of 2022, Village President Mike Jenny said at the meeting.
Although village trustees approved the purchase and sale agreement on a unanimous vote, one person critical of the property purchase spoke during the meeting.
“My comments are like others that I have made about the handling of the permanent fund: lack of a budget, lack of standards, exclusion of the public. The public needs to have a say. The permanent fund is public money. It is not a slush fund,” Bill Seitz said. “There needs to be publicly agreed upon standards as to how this money will be spent. Once there is a budget, the next step is to make it competitive and transparent. The emphasis should be on existing businesses.”
Seitz said, “This matter should be the subject of a public referendum.” Seitz said the Economic Development Strategic Plan and Downtown Strategic Plan, adopted on August 3, 2021, during a pandemic, “is a resolution, not an ordinance.”
After Seitz spoke, Jenny gave some background on the intended use of the permanent fund as detailed first when the fund was established in 1996 and under a 2005 village policy establishing standards for how the permanent fund is to be used.
He said eligible uses for the permanent fund include capital spending, land acquisition, and economic reinvestment in the community.
Village officials said there would likely be an economic gap to be filled in order to see the site developed in accordance with the wishes expressed during the Glenview Connect process.
A more recent 2016 village financial policy manual chapter on the permanent fund echoed that saying, “Economic development initiatives include those that meet village financial and strategic goals, provide for reinvestment in the community, and establish and maintain long-term revenue streams,” with eligible uses including land acquisition.
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