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An ambitious plan to attract $100 million in investment to downtown Waukegan and the Lake Michigan waterfront appeared to be well received Wednesday by a city advisory board, supporters said.For more than two hours, members of the Greater Waukegan Development...

Big plan would kick-start downtown Waukegan, group says

An ambitious plan to attract $100 million in investment to downtown Waukegan and the Lake Michigan waterfront appeared to be well received Wednesday by a city advisory board, supporters said.For more than two hours, members of the Greater Waukegan Development...

Big plan would kick-start downtown Waukegan, group says

An ambitious plan to attract $100 million in investment to downtown Waukegan and the Lake Michigan waterfront appeared to be well received Wednesday by a city advisory board, supporters said.

For more than two hours, members of the Greater Waukegan Development Coalition, a nonprofit focused on developing business and real estate, laid out its vision for a 140-room hotel, apartments, restaurants and other businesses as the central pieces of what was described as a "catalytic project" to jump start downtown development.

The presentation was to the Waukegan Economic Development Advisory Board, which reviews projects before forwarding them to city staff. The coalition is seeking approval for a planned unit development, a process expected to take six to nine months, according to Michael Edgar, an architect and president of the four-year-old group.

Known as GreenTown Redevelopment Project, the premise is make the downtown center and lakefront areas a destination for recreation and entertainment and attract business in the process. The core plan calls for a 140-room hotel, four restaurants, more than 200 apartments, and more than 12,000 square feet of commercial uses along Sheridan Road at Washington Street.

The project would be close to the Pace bus terminal and Metra rail line, and is envisioned as a "dense, walkable urban complement" to typical suburban development.

According to the coalition, the GreenTown project is meant to implement many strategies and recommendations developed through various past plans, including the city's master lakefront plan of 2003 and lakefront implementation plan of 2015.

Edgar said past proposals didn't utilize all the assets of the master plans.

"You can build a hotel but you need places for them to be entertained," he said. That's why a full service restaurant across from the Genesee Theatre and improvements to the festival grounds at Waukegan Harbor, for example, need to be part of the package, he added.

Edgar said the group has been working with the city and refining plans the past two years. The next step will be to forge a redevelopment agreement with the city. The advisory board forwarded the matter to city staff to begin work on that aspect, he said, but no developers have signed on for specific projects.

@dhmickzawislak

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