Lincolnshire board considers changes to address Fresh Market, future business

Fresh Market fruit
Sun-Times file photo.

The Fresh Market was at the heart of a two-hour-plus discussion by the Village Board on June 23 about a wide scope of possible improvements to lure and retain business.

That discussion led to a 10-point plan that centered around the oft-underutilized parking lot and village-owned real estate occupied by the store at the northeast corner of Illinois Route 22 and Milwaukee Avenue.

Village officials blame at least some of the lack of traffic to Fresh Market on difficulty entering its parking lot.

“Residents of Lincolnshire still say to me, ‘I have not been to Fresh Market because I don’t know how to get in there,’” said Trustee Tom McDonough.

The lack of business at Fresh Market is a grave enough concern to get trustees talking about its long-term future.

“If they go lights-out, they’re screwed, we’re screwed,” Trustee Liz Brandt said. “We’re stuck with a big box.”

Representatives of Fresh Market could not be reached for comment.

Perhaps the largest problem regarding access to the Lincolnshire store is solely under the control of the Illinois Department of Transportation: the medians that divide both Route 22 and Milwaukee.

As village officials discussed, drivers on southbound Milwaukee and eastbound Route 22 have difficulty getting into the parking lot — an effort that too many suburbanites are unwilling to make.

“We’ve got to get signs that say, ‘This is where you turn,’” McDonough said.

When Fresh Market agreed to open in Lincolnshire, it was the only high-end grocer in the area. But late last year Dominick’s closed all of its sores, and a month ago its former outpost at Route 22 and Buffalo Grove Road reopened as a Mariano’s.

IDOT officials have not expressed interest in changing the design of the intersection’s medians.

At their June 23 meeting, village officials searched for factors over which they have some control.

The Lincolnshire store’s managers must communicate with Village Manager Brad Burke through personal e-mail addresses, instead of company accounts, Burke said. Furthermore, they seem to have no local-advertising budget, he said.

To address problems attracting and retaining local business, the board gave Burke and his staff authority to effect 10 changes to code requirements, meeting schedules, required oversight and other red-tape measures they hope will speed business openings and make working with Village Hall more appealing to potential newcomers.

Among the changes:

• Lincolnshire prides itself on its trees and shrubbery, but will relax its landscaping standards to make the well-hidden Village Green and other properties more visible from streets.

• Fewer changes to established planned-use development agreements will require public review, with some enacted directly by Village Hall.

• Higher-density “professional-level apartments” could become a permitted use in mixed-level projects.

The changes should clear the way for the Fresh Market to add more signs near streets. Previous policy prohibited placement off of their parcel.

Mayor Brett Blomberg sounded pleased with the new general direction, but warned both the board and staff these adjustments must have a cumulative effect.

“All of these ideas are good, except that none of them are going to solve the problem,” he said. “This is a big undertaking, and starting small is fine, but you’ve got to get to that bigger picture.”

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