WALKER — The city’s Planning Commission approved the rezoning of the former Lincoln Country Club Wednesday, the first step in the new owner’s plan of constructing a mixed-use development on the site.
Rezoning the former country club, located at 3485 Lake Michigan Drive NW, for the Waterford Village project still needs final approval from the Walker City Commission. The property is set to be rezoned from agricultural to three different zoning designations: single family residential, multifamily residential, and commercial planned unit development (PUD).
Planning commissioners also voted Wednesday to table the preliminary site plan from Illinois-based developer Stoneleigh Companies LLC because of the amount of feedback from the community. Potential increased traffic in the area, living near rental properties and loss of wildlife habitat are among top concerns received from public comments.
Development plans include 67 single family home lots on the northern piece of the L-shaped property, 214 single story rental units in the middle, and five commercial outlots at the southern end of the site. The site plan also includes building a new access road, and a realignment of Lincoln Lawns Drive with Sunset Hills Drive to the south. A signal is also proposed to be added at the intersection of Sunset Hills Avenue and Lake Michigan Drive.
“It’s been a little bit of a process working through this with the transition of the pandemic and not being able to hold (an in-person) public meeting,” Stoneleigh Companies CEO Rick Cavenaugh said during Wednesday’s planning meeting. “I think we’ve had some interesting dialogue and have been able to address many concerns that have been brought up as part of the community dialogue and site plan review process.”
The most recent site plan addresses concerns by adding setbacks and buffers, dedicated open space, preserving mature trees on the property and conducting traffic study plans, Cavenaugh said. Except for keeping the property as a golf course, he said that he felt the development team had worked through many of the community’s concerns.
Stoneleigh Companies struck a deal with AMF Bowling Centers Inc. in October 2019 to buy the country club property, and closed on the sale in January 2021. The golf course was losing about $200,000 a year, Cavenaugh said, and is now closed permanently. The bowling alley on the site also closed permanently last year because of the pandemic.
“We knew that it was not an option to keep the golf course open, and even if it was still open it needed a lot of work because it was not very well maintained over the last few years,” Cavenaugh said.
Developers hope to start construction on the multifamily portion in mid-October 2021, and have the first five rental units available to tenants in the summer of 2022, Cavenaugh said. Cleveland-based Vocon is the project architect while Chicago-based Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc. is the civil engineer.
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