Dance studios, dog groomers OK’d for uptown Glencoe ground floors
Uptown Glencoe fitness centers had been required to allot 51 percent of floor space to retail, but new rules allow businesses like "Breathe...A Yoga Oasis," to devote their entire storefronts to fitness uses. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: March 8, 2013 6:06AM
The Glencoe Zoning Commission spent much of 2012 trying to make it easier for businesses to move into uptown Glencoe, but the biggest change in occupancy is coming just because people really want to be there.
A new restaurant is under construction in the 4,000 square-foot Wienecke hardware store space, and Chase Bank is planning to knock down the vacant building at 332 Park Ave. and build a new bank.
Despite these developments, the Zoning Commission, as well as the Village Board, looked at the old rules of what was allowed on the ground floor as being unrealistic, and now those rules are changed.
The new permitted uses, recently approved without dissent by the Board, are tutoring, pet grooming, dancing and music lessons, exercise/fitness/yoga studios and art schools.
It may seem that some of these uses are already permitted, but not exactly. For instance, uptown Glencoe has a yoga studio, but it’s only been legal because more than half the floor space is used for retail. And Glencoe’s art schools use more than half their floor space for selling art and supplies.
Now, they won’t have to.
There’s already a dog groomer sniffing around Vernon Avenue, less than a week after the ordinance was passed.
The rules also apply to the Hubbard Woods district, which has also seen a new tenant, in Dunkin Donuts, that didn’t need anything special.
A key problem in leasing uptown space has been high rent, perhaps more than zoning.
“Some landlords will bend over backwards to get somebody into a space,” Glencoe Building and Zoning Administrator John Houde said Jan. 24. “And in some other cases the vacancies tend to stay there for years on end.”
But the Village Board agreed that the strictures should be relieved, as fewer retail businesses come calling for brick-and-mortar stores in a dot-com generation. For now, it’s easier to lease to a service business.
According to village statistics, 37.6 percent of the business districts are now retail, and 35.5 percent service – measured by frontage, before the changes.
The commission only agreed to liberalization in areas that might add to foot traffic without cheapening uptown.
Among the rejected uses were gold-buyers, investment counseling, tanning salons, contractors and day care.
Tax preparation didn’t make it, either, largely because it’s seasonal.
Many other uses are possible, but they require special use permits, which are difficult to get, as they require proving hardship.
Major uptown property owner Kevin Campbell hasn’t had a vacancy for two years, but he nevertheless was one of those who called for change in the spring of 2012. Now, he feels the market is closer to being balanced.
“Right now, (the zoning) conforms favorably with other communities,” he said Jan. 24.
He added that since the commission began hearings, the uptown vacancy rate has dropped from a respectable 7 percent to a typical 5 percent.
But the changes are still necessary, he said, because the lack of housing density around uptown Glencoe tends to impel landlords into the arms of service businesses. “You’re not going to get The Gap here,” he said. “You’re not going to get Banana Republic.”