by Eric Stromgren
A group advocating for affordable housing in the Village of Northbrook, Illinois, plans to voice its opposition to a proposed mixed-use development led by Life Time Fitness.
Representatives of The Justice Project team in the Chicago suburb plan to attend a Village planning and zoning committee meeting Tuesday and request the project be dropped, according to a Northbrook Star report. The group wants to push for an inclusive, mixed-income development on the proposed site at 1000 Skokie Boulevard.
The Justice Team group would join Northbrook residents who oppose the project because of traffic and density concerns, Open Communities Executive Director Gail Schechter told the Star.
“The first thing we need to do is kill the Life Time project,” Schechter told the Star. “Then we can get something with affordable housing in it.”
The proposed project calls for a 91,000-square-foot Life Time Fitness club, a Finger Companies luxury apartment building and a 43,000-square-foot Children’s Learning Adventure day care facility on the 18-acre site. The planning and zoning committee plans to review two specific issues Tuesday: the proposed redesign of the apartment building that would cut the number of apartments by 10 percent to 304 units, and a proposed redesign of the parking lot to alleviate traffic flow concerns.
On Jan. 12, the Village of Northbrook Board of Trustees was scheduled to consider legal documents and approve the concept plan and tentative plat for the proposal. The Board referred the proposal to the planning and zoning committee for further discussion. The committee is expected to make a recommendation to the board, which will once again consider the proposal in a public meeting scheduled for March 8.
The proposed development site has been a contentious property through the years in Northbrook. Failed attempts at developing the site included a proposed Marriott hotel, Costco and Walmart (twice in 2004 and 2013).
Life Time Fitness was part of a 2008 development proposal that did not move forward, according to a preliminary proposal filed with the Village in 2014. Northbrook was a “target market” for “the better part of the last decade,” Life Time Fitness said in the proposal. Life Time Fitness currently has nine locations in the Chicago area, including Life Time Athletic centers in nearby Skokie and Vernon Hills.
The Justice Project team in Northbrook also plans to organize a facilitated community forum to identify community needs and aspirations that could be furthered at the site, to reach out to stakeholders in the Village (including the YMCA) and invite those stakeholders to join the process, and to encourage neighbors to sign an online petition calling for an updated market study on the nearby NorthShore770 development, which contains luxury residential rentals and 100,000 square feet of retail space.
The median home value in Northbrook grew 352 percent from 1979 to $591,000 in 2007, and the median household income grew 111 percent from 1979 to $133,813 in 2007, according to data cited in a 2010 Northbrook Comprehensive Plan.