The Northbrook Downtown Development Plan is out and has been presented to the steering committee. Jennifer Fisher of Northbrook Patch attended the steering committee meeting on Wednesday and was provided with a wealth of information about the ‘Plan for the Future of Northbrook.’ This plan will be brought to the Northbrook Village Board at a Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, February 21st at 7:30.
The Plan was created with a grant from the RTA and an additional $25,000 was contributed by the Village of Northbrook. When I was on the Village Board, I actually voted against the $25,000 contribution to put towards this plan. I felt that it could potentially be just another plan that would be put on a shelf and ignored. I didn’t see how the village or its residents would be able to implement and follow through. There has never been a lack of desire in Northbrook to revitalize the downtown. There has been the inability to follow through. And in my opinion, one of the main reasons there has been an inability to follow through has to be firmly placed at the feet of the owners of the Meadow Shopping Center, Heitman Properties.
I am willing to say that I don’t know the ‘behind the scenes’ of Heitman Properties’ relationship with the village, but I do know what I have experienced first-hand from living in Northbrook for 36 years. And that is that Heitman Properties has not put forth any effort or desire to improve their development or the town that they have benefited from for so many years.
Meadow Shopping Plaza has been the biggest blight in downtown Northbrook. The former Walgreens space is leased out until 2024. This space could be empty for TWELVE more years. The owners have zero financial incentive to rent that empty space. They need to become actively involved in making this a town we are all proud of.
We might be talking about these same exact issues in 2024; your children will be off and married, and we will still be complaining about deteriorated awnings and a pothole-filled parking lot.
So what is going to propel this town forward? Is it another ‘plan’ that the village creates? Is it another heated discussion about eminent domain? Is it tax increment financing? Is it more complaining from residents that our downtown is the worst downtown out of all the North Shore communities?
The real, and only way, that this town is going to move forward is by getting each of you involved. If you have a complaint, then don’t just complain. Get involved. Attend the board meetings and review the plan. Form a local group to help move this issue forward. Talk to your neighbors about it. Make your voice heard and post your comments online. Write to the editors of the local papers.
We cannot afford to sit on the sidelines any more. Downtown Northbrook directly affects our property values. It affects our community spirit.
As a real estate agent, I know for a fact that Northbrook has lost new home buyers moving from the city specifically because of our downtown. It’s time to show Heitman Properties that it is different this time; the residents are serious and this Village Board is serious. From this point forward, we only have ourselves to blame. We know what the problems are, now we need to create the solutions.
Join my GET INVOLVED NORTHBROOK Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Get-Involved-Northbrook/118914154790134 for updates on the Northbrook plan. Post your comments and take an active role in making this a town that you are proud to live in.
Kati Spaniak is a 36-year resident of Northbrook, a former Northbrook Village Trustee and a real estate broker with @properties focusing specifically on real estate in Northbrook.