Wilmette, News

Signing Off?: Removal of Plaza del Lago sign stands out in new owners’ renovation plans

A new year often brings hope of rejuvenation, and the new owners of Plaza del Lago plan to deliver in 2023.

WS Development, which purchased the shopping center in 2022, submitted its preliminary plans to “restore” the historic development to the Village of Wilmette in late November. The village’s Appearance Review commissioners took a first look at those plans on Dec. 5 and will formally review them at their next meeting on Monday, Jan. 9.

As part of the refresh, WS Development plans to remove Plaza del Lago’s brick monument sign off Sheridan Road on the northeast side of the plaza. Plans show the entrance will instead be marked with a brick and stone pillar on each side of a colored (light gray) entryway.

A rendering of proposed changes to the Sheridan Road entrance of Plaza del Lago. | Images by Smith and Moore Architects

Other changes to the shopping center include a significant increase in plantings and landscaping throughout the facilities, the removal of awnings on Building B (the tower building to the east), new parking-lot circulation, and the installation of bike racks and decorative crosswalks, according to the plans submitted.

While some architectural details will be removed, most reportedly will remain.

WS Development also owns Wilmette’s largest shopping center, Edens Plaza, purchasing the interstate-adjacent center in late 2021, as well as two other Sheridan Road properties, according to village documents.

Plaza del Lago, 1515 Sheridan Road, is a historic property that claims to be the second oldest shopping center in the country. It features an open-air concept but also includes an indoor galleria with multiple storefronts.

An image showing some of the changes — increased landscaping, updated awnings — planned for the tower building (Building B).

Designed by architect Edwin Hill Clark in the 1920s, the Spanish-style Plaza del Lago was originally part of an unincorporated tract known as No Man’s Land. It was annexed into Wilmette in the 1940s.

Plaza del Lago was locally owned by the Moss family from the 1970s until 2018. It was put up for sale following the death of family patriarch Joseph Moss and was purchased by Retail Properties of America for $48 million, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. WS Development bought Plaza del Lago in 2022.

Today, Plaza del Lago spans 100,000 square feet across seven buildings and comprises more than 30 retail units anchored by a Jewel-Osco grocery store and Starbucks. It also is home to Wilmette stalwarts Convito Cafe & Market, Burhop’s Seafood, Yellow Bird Stationery and Chantilly Lace as well as newcomers Clucker’s Charcoal Chicken, Rosati’s pizza and Stride Indoor Running Studio.

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joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

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