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Karger Center

Albion Jacobs Highland Park, LLC, a developer has submitted an application to the City to redevelop the Karger Center property located at 1850 Green Bay Road. The following is a summary of the proposed development:

The “Albion at Highland Park” is a proposed multifamily development on the Karger Center property at 1850 Green Bay Road.  The 171-unit apartment building is proposed with 194 parking spaces in an enclosed garage beneath the residential portion.  The building design has a glass atrium in the middle to allow a view of Sunset Woods Park from Green Bay Road, as well as a common open courtyard in the back facing the park.
Albion

The 2.6-acre property is in the B4-5 zoning district.  This is a commercial zoning district that allows multifamily residential development at a density of 65 units per acre.  Buildings can be constructed to 51 feet in height with four stories by-right and up to 63 feet and five stories with a Planned Development approval by City Council.

Traffic and Site Access

The Albion at Highland Park site plan incorporates a driveway onto Green Bay Road and a proposed second entrance / exit onto Central Avenue through the Sunset Foods property.  The driveway onto Green Bay Road will connect to the stoplight in front of the Renaissance Place garage and improved pedestrian crossings will be installed there as part of the development’s improvements.  Importantly, the site will not require any emergency access from Sunset Woods Park.  Adequate fire and emergency services access is provided.

A traffic impact analysis, required as part of all new developments in Highland Park, modeled traffic generated by the new development and concluded that the proposed access points will be adequate in accommodating the traffic entering and exiting the proposed development.  Based on the traffic analysis for the development, levels of service at key intersections, such as Green Bay / Central and Green Bay / Renaissance Place, are not projected to decrease. 

Purchase and Sale Agreement

Following a comprehensive review process of several development proposals and purchase offers for the property, the Albion Jacobs development team entered into a Purchase and Sale Agreement with the City of Highland Park in January 2018. The Agreement sets forth the scale of residential development allowed on the site and authorizes the construction of “a multifamily residential development consisting of 171 luxury apartment units, measuring no more than 65 feet in height, with high-end finishes, high-end common amenities, and appropriate signage.”  The purchase and sale agreement requires the developers to apply for all zoning relief necessary for the proposed development and contemplates a time period for a preliminary approval process, but does not obligate the City Council to grant any specific zoning relief.

Question & Answer:  The following provides answers to common questions related to the proposed Albion development.

 When and why was the zoning changed from B4 to B4-5?

  • The zoning for the entire downtown area (Central District) was changed in 2015 following a multiyear planning effort that began in 2009. The process included a comprehensive review and consideration by the Plan & Design Commission, along with feedback from property owners, businesses, residents, City Council, and staff. The review also took into consideration a land use and urban design study by The Lakota Group (Lakota Study) which included the Central District. This
    planning study recommended changes to the City’s Zoning Code to allow higher density development within downtown as permitted under the B4-5 and other Zoning Districts. To view the Lakota Study, please click here.

A public hearing was opened in October 2013 to consider zoning changes that stemmed from this multi-year planning process.  Notification letters were mailed out to hundreds of property owners within 400 feet of the properties to be rezoned. In addition, 80 other downtown property owners were notified. Signs were prominently placed in locations throughout downtown announcing the public hearing process by which these changes were considered. 

In April 2015, the City Council adopted a number of zoning map and text amendments, establishing the B4-4, B4-5, and B4-6 districts with associated changes to residential density and building form among other regulatory changes.

 Do B4 zoning districts typically abut residential neighborhoods? 

  • Yes, B4 zoning districts abut multi-family residential districts and moderate density single-family residential districts around the periphery downtown. 

 How tall is the proposed building?

  • Per the City zoning code building height is measured from the average grade of the property.  The grade of the property at 1850 Green Bay Road changes significantly from east to west.  The height of the proposed building is 63 feet tall when measuring from the average grade of this property, which meets zoning requirements.

 How will Sunset Woods Park be protected?

  • Development must occur on its own site and standard abutting property protections apply.  The proposal does not include changes to the Sunset Woods Park.  The Firehouse Youth Center, located on Park District property nearby the Albion development site, is planned for demolition or relocation. The changes proposed will replace the existing impervious pavement and building with pervious improvements.   

 How does the proposal address parking for the people who park where the development will be? 

  • Yes, 46 parking spaces will be provided for the Lake County Health Center, which meets Zoning Code requirements for that use.  The existing Renaissance Place public parking garage is underutilized and is also be available for public use.

 How will stormwater concerns be handled?  Why wasn’t this discussed at length as part of the public hearing?

  • Civil engineering including stormwater management plans will be fully reviewed as part of the final development consideration, this is typical of a two phase (preliminary and final) Planned Development consideration process.  The applicant submitted a preliminary plan for review.

 When was the Albion proposal considered?

City Council considered the Plan and Design Commission’s recommendation and the proposed development at its January 28, 2019 regular meeting and approved the drafting of documents for preliminary approval of a Planned Development and design for the redevelopment of 1850 Green Bay Road, subject to the conditions by the Plan and Design Commission and the Housing Commission. The following link provides information pertaining to the development from the City Council’s January 28, 2019 meeting:

 When did the City begin marketing the Karger Center Property?

  • The City approved an agreement with Millennium Properties to list and market the Karger Center property on May 22, 2017. The Karger Center property was listed for sale on June 1, 2017.

 Why is the City selling the Karger Center?

  • The City’s decision to sell the 53 year old property follows a 2014 comprehensive assessment of City owned real estate which identified the Property as a building with rapidly escalating operating costs.

 Will the public have input into the redevelopment of the Karger Center site?

  • After listing the property for sale, the City held a neighborhood meeting in August 2017 to discuss the sale of the property and to ensure neighboring property owners that they will have an opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed redevelopment as part of the City’s public planned development process. The Albion at Highland Park is currently being considered through the City’s public planning and design review process as required by the City’s Zoning Code. This public hearing process provides the public the opportunity to provide testimony related to the consideration of the proposed project.

 What is the purchase price that the developer is paying to the City for the Karger Center property?

  • The developer entered into an agreement with the City to purchase the Karger Center property for $3.762M.

 What will happen to the Lake County Health Department Facility?

  • The Lake County Health Department Facility will remain on site. The proposed development will include 46 parking spaces for the Lake County Health Department. The Renaissance Place Parking Garage across the street will also be available and is currently underutilized. The development will create a crosswalk across Green Bay Road to connect pedestrians between Renaissance Place and the west side of Green Bay Road.

 What is the current zoning of the Karger Center Property? 

  • The property is zoned B4-5. A link to the City’s zoning map can be found by clicking here. Information on the City’s allowable uses by zoning district can be found by clicking here.

Where is the city posting updates about the redevelopment of the Karger Center property?  

  • Regular updates are posted on the City’s Development Projects page on its website which can be accessed here.

 What will happen to the existing water tower?

  • The water tower will continue to be the City’s property and is not subject to sale or assignment to any third parties. The proposed redevelopment of the Karger Center site works around the water tower and will not impact access to it.

 How will the Firehouse Youth Center be impacted? 

  • The Firehouse Youth Center is proposed to be demolished. The City has issued a Request for Proposals seeking proposals from qualified entities to purchase and relocate the Firehouse Youth Center building. The Firehouse Youth Center is located on land owned by the Park District of Highland Park abutting the property being sold by the City at 1850 Green Bay Road.

 What happened to the Youth Services program at the Firehouse Youth Center? 

  • Following a thorough review of the Youth Services program and specifically noting low enrollment and over $100,000 in immediate repairs and over $700,000 in building improvements being necessary to maintain the building, the City discontinued the After School program in 2018 and transitioned participants to alternative after-school programs for the 2018 -2019 school year.

 Who can I contact about this project?

  • If you have any questions or would like to provide feedback, please contact the City Manager’s Office at 847.926.1000 or email cityhp@cityhpil.com.

January 10, 2018 Update

At the January 8, 2018 City Council Meeting, Albion Jacobs Highland Park, LLC (“Developer”) was introduced as the preferred developer for the Karger Recreation Center site (“Property”).

The City Council and staff conducted a comprehensive review of proposals for the sale and redevelopment of the Property. The Developer was selected based on a combination of factors including the proposed redevelopment plan and the purchase price. The Developer has agreed to purchase the Property from the City for $3.762M and proposes to redevelop the site into a multi-family residential development consisting of 171 luxury apartment units, measuring no more than 65 feet in height, with high-end finishes and common amenities. The proposed development considers the needs neighboring properties and the Central Business District. The City and Developer have negotiated a proposed Purchase and Sale Agreement (“PSA”), which will appear before the City Council for consideration at their January 22, 2018 regular meeting. The City issued the following media release regarding the Karger Center on January 10, 2018: City of Highland Park Identifies Buyer for Karger Recreation Center Site

The presentation given by Albion Jacobs Highland Park, LLC at the January 8, 2018 City Council meeting can be viewed here
The video from the January 8, 2018 City Council Meeting at which the presentation was given can be viewed here.

Additional Information
Neighborhood Meeting Information