A small but coveted space near downtown Winnetka is the subject of a big idea, as village officials are considering an applicant’s request to reimagine a property earmarked as a redevelopment opportunity two years ago.
Winnetka’s Village Council on Tuesday, Aug. 1, preliminarily reviewed a request to construct a four-story building with ground-floor parking and three condominium units at 808 Oak St. Located on the south side of the street between Chestnut and Green Bay Road and Linden, the property is currently vacant, per village records.
According to initial project plans submitted to the village, the residential condominium building would feature three single-floor units, each with three bedrooms. The ground floor of the building would include six parking spaces, a lobby, elevator, two staircases and a trash enclosure.
The site for the potential development, which is just 0.14 acres or approximately 6,267 square feet, was part of a 2021 request to create a three-lot subdivision of 800, 808 and 812 Oak Street. As previously reported by The Record, the request received approval from the Winnetka Council — and trustees immediately shared their belief that the maneuver to create the subdivision could lead to future development.
Currently, the land hosts two developments, 800 Oak St. and 812 Oak St., according to village documents. The approved 2021 request established a third address in the subdivision, 808 Oak St., in the 30-foot-wide empty parcel between the two.
A three-story, mixed-use building that was first built in 1968 and now features nine office spaces and a dozen residential apartments sits at 800 Oak St. The structure at 812 Oak St. is a four-story, mixed-use building built in 1996, per village records. Three office spaces are located on the first floor while 12 residential condominium units are on the top three floors.
The council did not delve into specifics of the proposal during the Aug. 1 meeting but trustees did debate how the project should move through deliberation and review proceedings.
Trustees ultimately directed staff to forward the text amendment, special use, and variation requests associated with the project all at one time to the village’s Plan Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals for their review and recommendation.
The alternative option the council considered was to first host a public hearing and consider adopting the requested text amendment, and then subsequently have the applicant apply for the special use and variation requests.
Selecting the option to first forward the item to the advisory boards eliminated at least a month’s worth of time, ultimately speeding up the potential approval or disapproval of the project. Trustees strongly encouraged this route given it expedites the overall process and falls in line with the council’s desire to streamline review of smaller-scale development.
“I trust that both the plan commission and the zoning board could move this along in one meeting,” Village President Chris Rintz said. “This isn’t rocket science here and if it did go longer I would really be surprised and somewhat upset, because it’s contrary to our idea to try and streamline (the process).”
Because the total lot area of the subject property is less than 10,000 square feet, redevelopment does not require approval through Winnetka’s planned development process.
An exact timeline for when the project will make its way through the village’s advisory board and back to the council was not given at the meeting.
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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.