Seems like yesterday that the southeast corner of Elm Street and Lincoln Avenue in downtown Winnetka was poised to welcome a large-scale, $100-million mixed-use redevelopment project known as One Winnetka.
Now years after One Winnetka was first approved, the properties located at Elm and Lincoln remain entrenched in legal battles, while prospects for future use remain uncertain.
Winnetka’s Village Council approved in 2018 a contentious proposal for the site that included apartments, townhomes, condominiums and commercial space. But plans were nixed in mid-2019 when village officials terminated their agreement with developer David Trandel after the project reportedly failed to meet several agreed-upon milestones.
According to information provided by the Village of Winnetka, the property owner’s lender started foreclosure proceedings in August of 2019.As part of that process, a receiver was appointed, village officials told The Record, and the receiver was assigned to solicit proposals for the site, officials said.
Ten developers submitted bids for the site, according to the village, and the property’s lender selected a proposal to purchase the property from Hoffman Commercial Real Estate, which is the most prolific owner of commercial property in Winnetka and owns much of the storefronts on the north side of that intersection.
But the purchase and agreement has since been terminated, according to the village, and Hoffman no longer is slated to develop the site.
As foreclosure proceedings move forward, the village is continuing its push for property maintenance violations to be enforced.
David Schoon, Winnetka’s director of community development, told The Record the village has a property maintenance complaint currently in the circuit court system. Public documents show the lawsuit was filed in July 2019 and has been continued multiple times over two years. Winnetka’s efforts to enforce property maintenance violations are “still going through the process,” Schoon said
Because the building is not sealed from outdoor elements, Schoon said, it has suffered interior damage, leading to bacterial and mold growth. Reportedly, exterior damage, including broken and boarded-up windows is also an issue.
“The circuit court judge has required the remedy of public safety-related items but not aesthetic improvements or broader maintenance items,” a public statement on the village’s website reads. “The lender authorized the court-appointed receiver to address other specific maintenance items.
“The court has continued consideration of the property maintenance items as the property has moved through the foreclosure process. The Village continues to request that the court enforce the Village’s property maintenance codes on the property.”
Several legal entities, including SB One Winnetka LLC, own the property.
The village’s litigation costs associated with this case were not known by press time.
Although the property is snarled in legal matters with no clear plans present, village officials still hope something may come of the prized development opportunity.
“In the end, I think everyone wants to see the re-use of these buildings or redevelopment of the site,” Schoon said. “That is the ultimate goal. That is the real goal for everyone — the reuse of the existing buildings or the redevelopment of the site.”
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Martin Carlino is a co-founder and the senior editor who assigns and edits The Record stories, while also bylining articles every week. Martin is an experienced and award-winning education reporter who was the editor of The Northbrook Tower.