Wilmette, News

More From Wilmette Village Board: New Plaza del Lago entryway approved; Speakeasy concept at Fourth and Linden withdraws; Loyola Academy lighting proposal draws closer

As previously reported, Plaza del Lago’s signature monument sign along Sheridan Road will come down, and designs for its replacement were recently submitted to the Village of Wilmette as ownership moves forward with plans to refresh the mall. 

Wilmette trustees approved on Tuesday, April 25, a sign variation that will allow WS Development, which purchased the shopping center in 2022, to display two monument signs on the northeast side of the center. 

Renovations plans call for a new entry that will feature a brick-and-stone pillar on each side. The mall’s ownership says the approved variations will “ensure that the shopping center will continue to draw customers and will set the tone for adjacent commercial buildings.” 

“The proposed signage would create a more significant entrance consistent with the recently approved improvements to the (center) and the aesthetics of the neighborhood, allowing the shopping center to continue to maintain its place as an iconic, upscale shopping destination and asset to the Village as it has been for decades,” said Peter Friedman, an attorney representing WS Development, in a letter to the village of Wilmette. 

Luigi’s Dress Shop loses liquor license, as plans for speakeasy-style cocktail and gown shop fall through

Plans for Luigi’s Dress Shop, a once-anticipated addition to Wilmette’s Fourth and Linden district, have all but fallen by the wayside. 

Trustees approved an ordinance during their meeting closing out a liquor license application from the proposed specialty restaurant. 

Wilmette’s Village Board in 2021 approved plans for the business to occupy the vacant space at 424 Linden Ave., as previously reported by The Record.

Blair Cooke, the owner of Wilmette’s long-standing local favorite Alchemy Coffee House, and Mari-Rose McManus, the owner of downtown Wilmette’s Exhibit Boutique, described Luigi’s Dress Shop as “an entirely new concept in the retail beverage industry.” 

Initial plans called for the business to offer on-site specialty alcoholic beverages created from their own ingredients that were made and bottled at the store. A second characteristic of the proposed business was supposed to be the illusion of a speakeasy, Cooke and McManus previously said. 

But ownership opted not to move forward with the business, according to a Village memo from Jeffrey Stein, the village’s corporate counsel.

Village Manager Mike Braiman told The Record that the business’s owners never indicated to the Village why they scrapped the plans, and the village also has no indication Luigi’s will be opening any time soon, he added. 

Wilmette’s first-quarter revenues ‘are performing very well’

Melinda Molloy, the village’s finance director, presented to trustees Wilmette’s early-2023 financial report. 

“I think the takeaway that you should have is that our first-quarter revenues are performing very well,” she told trustees. 

Right now, revenues are ahead by $3.8 million compared to the village’s year-to-date budget but are down $2.5 million compared to 2022, according to village documents. Molly explained ths is caused by changes to the timing of property tax receipts and shifts in payment due dates by Cook County.

One of the highlights of the village’s revenue-generating endeavors so far this year is funds generated through building permits, which is largely due to one-time permits issued to Wayfair for its planned development inside Eden’s Plaza. 

The village is adjusting its year-end revenue estimates up by $568,000 because of this. The projected increase does not include the recent sale of the historic former train station at 1139 Wilmette Ave. Updated projections that feature that sale will be included in the board’s next financial update, officials said. 

Loyola Academy’s plans for permanent stadium lights could be coming this summer

Wilmette officials may soon be considering a proposal from Loyola Academy to install permanent lighting at its on-campus athletic stadium — a possibility reported by The Record in November 2022.

Braiman told The Record that Loyola has submitted an initial application that will likely go in front of Wilmette’s Zoning Board of Appears later this year. The application is not yet complete, so the proposal will likely be considered by the zoning board “early this summer,” Braiman said. 

The village is still waiting for additional details on the scale of the school’s plan. 

“The most significant proponent is the lights for the football field but we’re waiting for a full application to better understand,” Braiman said. 

The Record contacted village officials in response to two resident emails rebuking Loyola’s hopes for stadium lighting that were submitted in advance of the Village Board meeting. The topic was not discussed during the meeting, and no residents addressed the board during public comment.

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martin carlino
Martin Carlino

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.

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