Wilmette, News

Jersey Mike’s and urgent care center will fill up Wilmette’s Westlake Plaza

Two new tenants that are coming to a west Wilmette shopping center will make it 100 percent occupied, according to Village staff, after trustees gave unanimous approval to the businesses’ zoning requests on March 12.

Westlake Plaza, 3207 Lake Ave., is divided into east and west sections that are connected by an alley. The west side is accessible from Lake Avenue, while the east side has driveways on both Lake and Skokie Boulevard.

Jersey Mike’s sandwich shop and Lake Pointe Urgent Care got the go-ahead to occupy spaces in the east side of Westlake Plaza. Several storefronts — including Japanese to-go spot Ichi (west), healthy food shop Chia Leah (west) and Tex-Mex eatery Fajita Pete’s (east) — have entered the plaza in the past year.

While the trustees didn’t have any issues with the businesses coming to Wilmette, Trustee Steve Leonard said he asked to pull both zoning requests from the consent agenda to discuss parking.

The Village’s zoning code requires three parking spaces per 1,000 square feet. Leonard questioned if that requirement was sufficient for modern-day business needs and suggested that the Village reexamine its zoning laws regarding parking.

“I think that the special use category should remain in place, because I think it has a purpose, but if we start those special conversations once again with a structure that we can all agree on, I think it would be beneficial,” he said, also advocating for landlords to be a part of any discussions on any potential changes.

John Adler, the village’s director of community development, said that the parking requirements have been referred to Wilmette’s Land Use Commission, which he said will be discussing the issue at future meetings.

Some trustees also questioned if Westlake Plaza had enough parking spaces overall for both employees and shoppers.

According to information presented by the Village, Westlake Plaza has a combined 50 parking spaces. Those include ADA-accessible spaces and time -limited zones and will include six reserved spaces for Lake Pointe Urgent Care’s patient parking.

Trustee Gina Kennedy said she’s personally witnessed delivery trucks blocking parking spaces and the driveway connecting east and west at the plaza, while Trustee Kate Gjaja supported encouraging walking and biking to the shopping center.

“I know it’s a tough location, but there’s no encouragement of any other way to get to this place other than by car,” she said.

Representing Westlake Plaza’s owner, Ken Smallwood, with Mid-American Asset Management, said while they’ve never asked tenants specifically about parking issues, only one tenant has raised concerns.

“We regularly communicate with our tenants about concerns in general, and it’s not been brought up,” Smallwood said. “But we have not gone to each one of them and said, ‘We’re going to add new tenants. Is that a problem with you in regards to parking?’”

Brendan Reedy, also with Mid-American Asset Management, said he shops at Westlake Plaza and has not personally experienced a parking issue.

“I can tell you there’s, yes, limited parking spaces, but the natures of the businesses in this plaza are such they do turn over frequently,” he said.

Both Smallwood and Reedy agreed to work with tenants if parking becomes an issue, and said they will encourage employees to park in spaces that are typically not utilized by the public, including an area located behind one of the buildings on the west side.

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Peter Kaspari

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.

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