ULI Chicago is continuing to convene clusters of neighboring suburban communities as a part of its two-year Retail Initiative to share best practices, and to foster a regional, collaborative approach towards retail development.
In July, ULI Chicago convened two separate meetings in South Holland, Calumet City and Lansing in south suburban Cook County and Winthrop Harbor, Beach Park and Zion in northeast Lake County.
Mayors, municipal board members, and economic development professionals from each community participated in the meetings. ULI Chicago members, Bridget Lane, Director, Business Districts Inc., Todd Berlinghof, Partner, Hamilton Partners, and Pat Kennedy, Executive Vice President, V3 Companies, all experts involved in ULI’s Fall 2014 Retail Workshop, engaged the communities in very frank discussions on their retail opportunities and challenges. Using resources and themes that resulted from the Workshop, member experts were able to spark discussion and encourage sharing.
The communities in south suburban Cook County face a challenging retail environment, partly because of their location next to the state of Indiana with lower sales tax, but also from a lack of a positive brand image that can attract potential customers. However, these communities have many assets including a strong population base, great roadway access, and recreational draws. During the meeting, community leaders and ULI members brainstormed ideas for working together to create a regional marketing plan to highlight their assets and create a distinct identity for their sub-region.
The communities in NE Lake County face similar challenges because of their location close to the Wisconsin border, and regional shopping attractions in Pleasant Prairie, WI and Gurnee, IL. Their most significant asset is their lakefront location with associated marinas and the Illinois Beach State Park that attracts thousands of visitors every year. The community leaders engaged in a lively discussion with ULI members and agreed to build on their nascent efforts to work together as a sub-region to build a positive identity, and focus their commercial development efforts on goods and services for local residents and visitors, that cannot be easily provided by the nearby regional centers.
ULI Chicago will continue to meet with suburban clusters throughout the region to share information, case studies, and best practices in retail development.