Landowner Dimucci wants another 5 years to develop the plan for the shopping center in Rt. 12, Old McHenry

Due to market uncertainty, a longtime untapped landowner is seeking a shopping center between Hawthorn Woods and North Barrington to take another five years to move the project.

This will be the third final approval extension of the plan for Dimucci’s 109-acre estate at Old McHenry Road and Route 12 in the unincorporated town of Ela. An initial development plan was approved by the Lake District Council in 2012 but has not progressed.

With another deadline approaching, the county council’s advisory committee on Wednesday approved the request for more time and recommended that the county council be extended entirely.

The 2010 proposal to re-divide the property from residential to commercial sparked controversy and objections from residents and neighboring towns, as well as the Barrington Area Council of Governments.

After significant public debate and input, the county council voted on October 9, 2012, to rezone the property and allow 450,000 square feet of retail development and 200,000 square feet of other uses, such as restaurants or offices.

The approval allows for 53 acres of high-quality mixed-use commercial development, with the remaining 56 acres retained as open space for natural resource protection, rainwater retention, utilities, passive recreation, landscaping temporary storage and access improvements.

The approval of the initial development plan is valid for a period of five years. The deadline has been extended twice due to difficult economic conditions and the complexity of planning and implementing a project of this scale, according to county planners.

With the latest extension expiring on October 9, property owner RK123 LLC is requesting another five years to increase interest and bring the project to market. This work will include negotiating the sale, hiring a developer, securing tenants, and finalizing architectural and engineering plans, according to information provided to the county.

There is improvement but initial interest in starting new businesses in the suburbs, said Robert Demucci, Director of RK123 LLC. Demochi wrote in a letter to Eric Wagner, the county’s director of planning, construction and development, that this situation is due to the slow and unknown economic recovery surrounding the pandemic.

‘General uncertainty of’ when will this end? It made developers and investors very cautious,” Demucci wrote.

From putting the property on the market to actual construction, which includes several distinct phases, each with its own timelines, Demochi added in raising the issue for an extension of the deadline until October 9, 2026.

If no extension is granted, the project will return to its state prior to initial county council approval, Wagner notified members of the Lake County Council Public Works, Planning and Transportation Committee on Wednesday.

“We have to start from scratch,” he said.

Wagner recommended a five-year extension, adding that the project should adhere to an extensive list of best practices and design elements unusual in the county’s development history.

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