A Winnetka real estate office is one step closer to finding its new home, but some village trustees had questions about their plans for the space.
The Winnetka Village Council unanimously approved the introduction of an ordinance granting a special use permit to Compass Illinois at its regular meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 15.
David Schoon, Winnetka’s community development director, told the council that Compass is planning on moving to 564 Lincoln Ave. from its current location at 851 Spruce St. Schoon said the Lincoln Avenue location “is a commercial space located in a mixed-use building on Lincoln.”
“A portion of the property is located in the overlay district, which allows real estate offices, but only by special use approval,” he said.
The space is currently vacant, but Coldwell Banker previously occupied it.
Schoon said Compass would be taking over approximately 4,500 square feet, which is half the size of what Coldwell Banker used. In a memo in the council packet, Schoon said about 1,500 square feet of the space is located in the commercial overlay district.
Compass plans to have two staff members operating out of the office full-time, while other staff would come and go as needed, according to Schoon, who added that Compass does not expect any more than five to 10 people working out of the office at a time.
The Winnetka Plan Commission previously voted 4-2 to recommend approving the request. In Schoon’s memo, he said commissioners who voted against the recommendation “expressed regret about recommending approval to allow Coldwell Banker to occupy the subject property in 2017.”
He further wrote that the dissenting commissioners “felt that the landlord should do more to find an appropriate tenant that would further enhance the successful retail shops and restaurants on Lincoln Avenue, rather than having a tenant that does not add the retail vibrancy to the commercial district that other uses could.”
Additionally, Schoon wrote that the Plan Commission “had a lengthy discussion regarding a real estate office with a ‘pop-up retail’ component,” which was included in the initial proposal.
Following Schoon’s report, Johnny Satz, senior director of corporate real estate for Compass, said the agency took the Plan Commission’s comments and worked to address its concerns.
“It’s not actually something that we are actually interested in, having a pop-up,” Satz said, adding that it was included in the original proposal because it was similar to the previous special use request the Plan Commission had granted to Coldwell Banker.
Since the Plan Commission meeting, Satz said Compass is now pursuing a sub-tenant that will operate a retail space.
“For all intents and purposes, we would like to have a tenant that complies with the special use district and contributes not only to the vibrancy of Lincoln but contributes to the vibrancy of the Compass office,” he said.
And while no agreements have been approved yet, Satz indicated that Compass has spoken with Anne Loucks, who operates an art gallery in Glencoe, about using the Lincoln Avenue space as her second location.
“She would like to use this as her second location to showcase one of her 50 artists, rotating every six to eight weeks, and operate it as she does her current gallery,” Satz said. “And we couldn’t be more thrilled to have such an amazing potential retailer in the front of that space.”
Compass would operate the back portion of the space, while the potential art gallery would take up the front. Satz said all Compass would ask for is use of a conference room for meetings.
While she did vote to introduce the ordinance, Trustee Tina Dalman said she was concerned that the retail portion would be “dead space.”
“I just don’t want it to be a display for art and nothing really going up,” she said, adding that when Coldwell Banker occupied the space, she noticed the pop-up location was occasionally empty.
“A lot of times it wasn’t open, so there would be stuff in the window to activate the window, but there wasn’t actually anybody to sell anybody anything,” Dalman said.
Council approves Village Hall bell tower work
Trustees also unanimously approved a contract for repair work to the Village Hall bell tower.
The Village Council granted a $40,000 contract to Leopardo Companies, of Chicago, as part of its consent agenda during the Aug. 15 meeting.
A memo in the council’s packet stated that last year it was determined that repair work needed to be done to the tower. Those repairs include “the fabrication and replacement of two decorative columns,” plus replacement of deteriorating and rotting wood, and new paint work.
A previous contract was awarded in August 2022, but according to the memo, that contractor defaulted on the project after it failed to provide necessary legal documents.
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Peter Kaspari is a blogger and a freelance reporter. A 10-year veteran of journalism, he has written for newspapers in both Iowa and Illinois, including spending multiple years covering crime and courts. Most recently, he served as the editor for The Lake Forest Leader. Peter is also a longtime resident of Wilmette and New Trier High School alumnus.