Residents packed a public hearing on a proposal for the former Harrison Conference Center in Lake Bluff Wednesday night, eager to hear the plans for the 47-acre Green Bay Road property, which have been stalled for years.
The Roanoke Group has filed a petition for approval of a preliminary development plan for a new planned residential development (PRD) at what is now called Stonebridge, located at 136 Green Bay Road.
A PRD already exists on the site, approved in 2006 by the Village Board for the original owners, New England Builders. The original PRD calls for an 85-unit residential age-restricted development, including 43 single-family detached homes, 28 attached duplex units, restoration and conversion of the historic Manor House with nine residential units, and restoration and conversion of the historic Carriage House with up to five residential units.
Roanoke’s current plan is to construct 98 single-family, detached residences of three differing sizes. Two existing detached single-family residences and two existing attached single-family residences, built under the original Stonebridge plan, would remain.
The new plan also calls for restoration and preservation of the existing historic Manor House as a community clubhouse with limited public access and demolition of the Carriage House. Both structures were designed by noted architect Howard Van Doren Shaw.
In 2012, Roanoke proposed building 108 dwelling units, which at the time, included restoration of the Carriage House and a total of eight condominium units in both the Manor House and Carriage House.
“This is a long process,” Kraus said. “We’re in the information-gathering stage. This is a huge amount of material for us to go through.”
Peter Kyte, a Roanoke principal, said the vision for the property is “to create a community, not a subdivision” that blends in with the village’s already existing housing stock.
Work done since 2012 “has lead to a much better plan,” he said.
Bob Hidey of Robert Hidey Architects of Irvine, Calif., detailed changes made to address concerns raised by commissioners in 2012, including eliminating all 50-foot lots, providing sidewalks throughout and eliminating dead-end streets.
The smallest houses, the cottage homes, have been moved to the central portion of the development, away from existing homes on East Witchwood Lane on the north side of the development.
Larger carriage units are clustered there, instead, with the largest units — the manor houses — placed on the exterior loop.
Every dwelling will have a usable front porch placed forward and garages pushed further back.
Cottage residences will be targeted to “move-down” buyers. These one- or two-story homes will have open floor plans with minimal formal space.
Carriage residences will be targeted to move-down buyers and young families. All will be two stories with private rear yards. Floor plans will be flexible to address changing lifestyles.
Manor houses on the perimeter are designed for “a discretionary buyer,” Hidey said. All will be two-story dwellings with walk-out basement opportunities on western lots and porches dominating the street scene.
Architectural details will be borrowed from Lake Bluff’s existing housing stock, Hidey said.
Paul Haden of The Collaborative West in San Clemente, Calif., addressed landscape and historic home preservation.
“The green is what holds places together,” he said, noting that his team is fortunate to have Jens Jensen’s original landscape drawings as a guide.
“Our intention is to follow the letter of the law with Jensen’s tenets,” he said, with an emphasis on native plants and varied viewing perspectives.
The Jensen landscape includes a stone bridge over a small lake, the lake itself and a curving road through woods as it approaches the Manor House.
“The Manor House is going to be restored in numerous ways,” he said, describing the current status of the historic building as “challenged” and “run-down.”
Interior rooms will be restored to their original state so that “it looks like 1915 but lives like 2014,” he said.
The current PRD on the property does not have a restoration plan, Kyte said.
“We’ve already started on restoration of the landscape, which is a two- to four-year process,” he said. “It’s important for us to get that right.”
The Manor House needs to be restored up front, he added.
Having the centerpiece of the development in its present state would be a deterrent to sales, Kyte said.
No public comment was allowed at Wednesday’s meeting, but is anticipated to be allowed when the public hearing reopens on Sept. 17.