Yay! Another Strip Mall!

Well, it was time for more “growth”, so they broke out the ol’ “What Should We Build Next?” Wheel.  When the “Build a Downtown” option fell off decades ago, it was replaced with “Spin Again”. They since have gotten so used to all the options starting with “Build a stand-alone…” that none of them realized they could do anything else!

So they gave the wheel a mighty spin, and though it almost stopped on “Fast Food Franchise” and looked like it might continue on to “Oil Change/Muffler Shop/Auto Parts”… it passed “Drive-Thru Bank” and ultimately came to rest on “Strip Mall”.

Here’s where it’s going to be built, at the NW corner of Rt. 83 and Engle, north of the Walmart. You can see the vacant lot behind the sign:

Looking north from the Walmart parking lot, next to Rt. 83

Here’s a closer look, taken from the driveway at that intersection:

Looking west from Rt. 83 & Engle Drive.

Looking west from Rt. 83 & Engle Drive.

You might have noticed this sign lately, showing there was at least some campaigning by the owner to get activity with this lot:

McVickers Development is an outfit in Buffalo Grove, specializing in “Big Box” and stand-alone retail projects. To help find investors and businesses looking for suitable properties, McVickers has a webpage for each site available.

Their Walmart Outlot – Round Lake Beach page mentions the following:

In 2006, McVickers purchased five vacant residential lots totaling one acre at the main signalized entrance to the newly constructed Walmart Supercenter (with groceries). McVickers’ lot is the only outlot in front of the Walmart. McVickers negotiated access rights as well as use of Walmart’s utility lines and offsite detention facility.

McVickers annexed and re-zoned the property with the Village of Round Lake Beach. The property is zoned for a bank with drive-thru, or a retail building with drive-thru.

There’s that ZONING thing getting in the way again! Anyway…

Up recently is this sign, right at the intersection:

Don’t know yet if HSA Commercial Real Estate will be the new owners, or just the “Property Managers”. It’s part of what they do all across the Midwest.

HSA put together a 2-page “Spec Sheet”, showing additional detail like area demographics, additional drawings, etc. Click HERE to open and view in a separate window if interested.

Here are a couple of graphics from the McVickers page about the property so you get a sense of what to expect:

Proposed site w/zoom. Click on the photo to open a .pdf of this graphic.

Proposed site w/zoom. Click on the photo to open a .pdf of this graphic.

Click on the photo to open a .pdf of this graphic.

Click on the photo to open a .pdf of this graphic.

Final details can vary, but this looks like a very typical multi-unit commercial strip building, about 100’x70′ based on initial drawings. None of the drawings so far depict positioning of an allowed drive-thru establishment, which is an important consideration on such a small lot.

Our initial thoughts and observations (aside from “Great… another strip mall.”):

  • Not seeing any sidewalk along the right-of-way by Rt. 83. Doesn’t mean it can’t happen, but since they didn’t include one in the drawings as a matter of practice, it also implies that in order to get one we’re going to have to require one. A sidewalk there is important for a variety of reasons, including of course access for the residents in that cluster of homes we’ve always considered to be “Venetian Village – West”. (It may have another name…) Note there is currently no sidewalk on the east side of Rt 83 either. While sidewalks are not intended to replace a (currently missing) N/S trail system connecting RLB and Lake Villa, it’s also never easier or cheaper to design and install one than during initial construction.
Will we make use of this opportunity to improve safety and connectivity for residents around the Walmart?

Will we make use of this opportunity to improve safety and connectivity for residents around the Walmart?

  • There’s an 8′ fence spec’d for the west and north sides of the property. Very typical in such construction for clear lines of demarcation, ownership, responsibilities, etc., yet it repeats a problem we have in so many other parts of the village. It turns the back of the businesses to many of the customers they’re trying to serve, and sets up a wall of “THOU SHALT NOT PASS”! True, new businesses, but no way for the people living closest to them to get there. Where’s the connectivity?
  • The vehicle entrance from Rt 83 is a “Right-in, Right-out” (Ri-Ro) type. Our concern is in the placement off the right southbound lane. Without a dedicated right-turn lane into the Walmart driveway at Engel, the right lane would serve simultaneously as a Rt. 83 thru lane and access for vehicles suddenly slowing to turn in to the new strip mall  and vehicles turning right into Walmart and vehicles using that Ri-Ro to enter southbound Rt 83 and vehicles passing on the right (’cause the idiot drivers are in a rush). That is a LOT of different types of use, with vehicles typically blitzing thru at a fast clip… even those intending to turn. We can’t imagine good things happening, or opportunity for drivers to make much eye contact to communicate intentions. Even WITH turn signals, are you turning into the strip mall, or planning to overshoot the driveway and turn at the Walmart? Did you just forget to turn on/off your signal, are you shooting for Monaville Road? Maybe you’re signaling a turn but your blinker has been on for the last 2 miles?
  • Where’s the snow going to go when the snowplows clear the parking spaces? Remember, most “snow removal” plans are really only “snow moving” plans.
  • We’ve already put our money down on this bet: No Bike Rack. By design, and with full village approval. Surprise us, we dare you!
  • If any of the new businesses is an eatery, they automatically, by design, have no place outside for al-fresco or bistro-style seating/dining. Strip malls are not designed for flexibility, for presenting options, esp. outdoors. Not even a nice place to sit in the shade and wait for your dinner companions. Those of us waiting for a “nice place to eat” in the village shall continue to wait.
  • Back to “connectivity” for a moment. Based on a quick house-count, there are probably about 200 residents living in the homes directly north of Walmart. As decreed by ordinance, there’s a 6′ wall of “Thou Shalt Not Pass” preventing them from simply walking the block or two it would take to do their grocery shopping there:
Easy walk from your home to the grocery store next door? Zoning say

Easy walk from your home to the grocery store next door? Zoning say “Not today”!

Here’s what we’ve got on the other side. The freakin’ street leads RIGHT TO THE FENCE!

Just a quick peek over the fence.

Just a quick peek over the fence.

So here’s a suggestion re: connectivity (’cause there ain’t none here)…

Put in a pedestrian/bicycle access. The neighborhood retains its overall quiet and safe atmosphere, with no “thru-traffic” of vehicles, yet allows convenient access to the store next door.

Why WOULDN’T you want connection? Kids can do more chores, those on a budget can avoid unnecessary car trips, land-locked seniors have more places walkably-close, etc.

Here’s the “Before Walmart” overview of the area. You can see multiple connections leading to the parcel from the north, east, and south… all goober’d-up by the big-box.


Play “Connect the Streets” in your mind’s eye. You can see all the community connection that now CAN’T happen.

Glad to see that professionals out there think enough of RLB and its future to invest in us, but rather sad that it gives us more of the same physical format we have so much of already.

Strip malls are conducive to certain types of business, of which we already have a generous helping in the village. What we need are type of businesses we DON’T have yet, invited to (and by) different types of places and space, places which don’t exist here yet… and seem destined never to exist under the current administration.

What kind of places? (Click on each thumbnail to biggify…)

example2   Barracks_Row-DC   

Anyway, that’s our overly-dramatic first “take” on this news. As they say on the commercials, “Your mileage may vary”!

P.S. That “Yay!” in the title? We’re kidding…

This entry was posted in Bicycling, Business, Design, Downtown, Planning, Walkability. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Yay! Another Strip Mall!

  1. Jamie says:

    I live on the other side of that fence and the road that leads right into it…

    I STRONGLY disagree with putting a walking path or bike path at the end of the road there. Since the Walmart has been here we have seen more unwanted traffic from other adults, to teens, and everything in between that have made us all feel uncomfortable with the safety of our homes and property and children. In the few years the Walmart has been here we have had more police calls or suspicious people in the neighborhood than the years before, and adding a walkway would only increase that.

    There is already a way for residents of this neighborhood to easily walk to the store, and not to be unfriendly, we would prefer this neighborhood to remain the quiet safe neighborhood that it is.

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