Village Looks Forward to Future with Cornerstone
The Village of Grayslake says Cornerstone, the $818 million office, housing and commercial development, will boost local economy.
As the Skokie-based Alter Group's Cornerstone project received one of the final pieces of action from the Village of Grayslake to move the $818 million development forward, the village has a lot to look forward to in the years to come.
The Cornerstone site consists of 641 acres, 48 acres of which is currently in the Village of Grayslake. The site is located about 6.5 miles west of the Interstate 94 and Illinois Route 137 interchange.
According to the Alter Group, the Cornerstone development plans currently call for 3 million square feet to 3.5 million square feet of light industrial/office space, 500,000 square feet to 600,000 square feet of shops and restaurants and 800 homes, mostly townhouses, apartments and condominiums.
Derek Soderholm, Grayslake's assistant village manager, said that Cornerstone housing units could bring in approximately 1,600 additional residents. The units are to include 356 attached single family, 123 detached single family, 74 age-restricted single family, 66 condominiums, 78 market rental apartments and 104 age-restricted apartments.
School districts affected by the additional population are estimated to receive $50 million of surplus during the 12-year development period and then annual surpluses upon completion, Soderholm said. The housing should be built within the next 15 years and non-residential portions of the development are to be developed first or simultaneous with the residential portions, he said.
The village believes the positive economic impact of the Cornerstone project will be extensive. Lake County Partners estimates that 9,800 jobs will be created in the project and 760 construction jobs will be created over its building period. According to a village release, $211, 450 million is estimated for annual retail sales at buildout.
Mike Ellis, Grayslake village manager, said the project's retail space, planned to be at the intersection of Peterson Road and Route 83, includes a pedestrian-friendly design. Ellis said that recent retail market studies reflect the fact that the area market can absorb this amount of additional commercial space.
"This part of the project will bring new commercial options not currently present in Grayslake and will also serve the thousands of new customers that will be working and living in and around Cornerstone. These new employees represent a new customer opportunity for existing businesses as well," he said.
Ellis said the new commercial space will not pose a threat to the village's existing downtown shopping center.
"The downtown area of the village has its own unique features that differential it from newer commercial locations. [The downtown] will always be a commercial area of prominence in the area and the location of the community facilities, festivals, events and other community functions. This combination of activities and businesses are unique in the area and will be able to effectively compete," he said.
The Cornerstone project will include sustainable development techniques, such as tree preservation, use of sustainable storm water control techniques, such as recycling and using rainwater for irrigation and reduced asphalt through shared parking concepts. The project will also have a comprehensive pathway and trail system, bike racks and access to three commuter rail stations with planned PACE connectivity.
Residents can expect its architectural styles to be consistent with and typical of those found within Grayslake and the Midwest, according to the release.
Stephen Park, Senior Vice President of the Alter Group, said that the company has two paths for marketing at the present time. The project's office and industrial space is being marketed through Steve Trapp at Cushman and Wakefield Real Estate Brokers. Retail is being marketed through David Stone at Stone Real Estate Brokers. However, he said, more governmental approval is needed before any serious marketing can begin. The next approval it needs is through the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency in Springfield.
Park said Grayslake was the ultimate choice for the Cornerstone project because it is one of the most proactive communities in the Lake County area. He said both its former Mayor Perry and current Mayor Taylor were very strong proponents of getting the project underway.
"We said 'let's work with them,'" he said.
Ellis said that the Cornerstone project will play a major role in the village's goal of creating a significant economic development area for the community to create jobs, increasing economic activity, adding a tax base for its schools to reduce the need for increases in homeowner property taxes and to provide additional retail and service options for the area.
The Grayslake Village Board voted unanimously to approve the execution of a Development Cost Agreement between Lake County Land Holdings, LLC and the village at its Dec. 7 meeting. Ellis said the approval signified one of the last major agreements between the village and the Alter Group.
Rhett Taylor, Grayslake mayor, said this agreement will provide for water, sewer and road improvements associated with the Cornerstone project and serve as a mechanism for permit revenues from the Cornerstone project to pay for a portion of these improvements.
Park said that the project couldn't have been done without getting all the different agreements and that the Alter Group has spent about the last five years working with the village.
"It's very large and rather complex. It took time to wade through everything," he said.
Ellis said that estimated land development costs are $195 million.
"Infrastructure covered in the agreement will help the village expand the local economy beyond the Cornerstone project," he said.
The off-site work, he said, is estimated to cost $60 million and will also serve the Central Range Economic Development Initiative Area with utilities.
The agreement provides for the village to assist with offsite improvements through fee waivers that would be normally collected during development of the project.
"Since the infrastructure will cover a wide economic development area the agreement provides for the village to assist with the costs of these offsite improvements through fee waivers," he said.
According to the agreement, fee waivers will not exceed $10.4 million of the estimated $60 million in improvement costs for the utility extensions and road improvements that will also serve the Central Range.
"Under the agreement the Cornerstone developer will front all the costs to build these improvements and will receive this reimbursement as the Cornerstone project develops," he said.
Park said he could not comment as to when the project will begin, saying, "the economy precludes us."
However, Park remains confident. "We hope to get this project rolling to catch the economy in an upswing," he said.
"We're in real estate, so we have to be optimistic," he said.
Park said he sees the project as advantageous for future employees and possible residents.
"Somebody who lives in Lake County doesn't have to drive for miles and miles to find a job, employees can be closer to their homes, shopping is nearby, [workers] can even live in the project; you don't see that too often," he said.
Shawn Vogel, Grayslake village trustee, said that overall Cornerstone is a 20-year project but surrounding economic factors will affect the date of the project's completion.
"If the economy improves, and there is pent-up demand, the project could finish much sooner," he said.