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Zoning Code Amended to Allow Multi-Family Residential Uses in the Central Business District

City of Highland Park Amends Zoning Code to Allow
Multi-Family Residential Uses in the Central Business District
Central District Residential Overlay Zone expands allowable uses in specified areas; will allow for residential developments in downtown Highland Park

December 16, 2020 – The City of Highland Park created the Central District Residential Overlay Zone (CDRO) to allow entirely-residential buildings within the overlay’s boundaries in the City’s Central Business District (CBD). The new CDRO zone applies to an eight-acre area within the CBD along the perimeter of the heart of the CBD. This area includes Elm Place from Green Bay Road to Sheridan Road. The overlay zone removes the commercial use limitation for the ground floor of residential buildings. This measure is designed to allow for residential development in an effort to increase vibrancy and walkability by residents to downtown retail and dining. The pedestrian-friendly CBD is home to boutique shops and unique restaurants, and provides convenient commuter access to Chicago.

“The work on this zoning change was considered as part of our master planning process. It is a well-researched policy action that is shaped through community outreach efforts and is a change that reflects the community’s vision for the future of our downtown,” said Mayor Nancy Rotering. “We look forward to working with developers and businesses as we continue to create a walkable, vibrant, and welcoming downtown that offers livability and amenities for individuals and families.”

Prior to approval by the City Council on December 14, 2020, the CDRO was considered and recommended by the Plan & Design Commission, which noted that additional residential development in downtown Highland Park would serve to attract and retain businesses by supporting commercial activity within the core of the CBD. The influx of new residents would increase demand and create additional foot traffic.

The CDRO also retains flexibility for developers interested in bringing a mix of tenants to a new project in the CBD, as a wide array of uses remain permissible within the overlay zone. For example, the Albion at Renaissance Place redevelopment of the former Saks Fifth Avenue building is slated to bring 89 residential units under the development plan which received preliminary approval from City Council in June, 2020. The Albion project incorporates ground-floor residential units as well as retail/commercial space.

The measure follows a series of other policy changes intended to facilitate new business development in the CBD, maintain the character of downtown Highland Park, and adapt to changing real estate market trends. In October 2020, the City eliminated the Pedestrian-Oriented Shopping Overlay policy, which restricted ground-floor tenants within its boundary to retail or retail-oriented businesses, and prior to that, adopted an “experiential uses” zoning amendment, permitting additional cultural and recreational business uses alongside traditional retail and commercial uses.

For more information about the creation of the CDRO and the uses now permitted in the CBD, please contact the Community Development Department, Planning Division at 847.432.0867.  To open a business in Highland Park, contact the Business Development Office at 847.926.1027.