by Eric Peterson, Daily Herald
In an effort to reduce commercial vacancies along Golf Road, Schaumburg officials are considering a recommendation to make a 3.8-mile stretch a distinct zoning district with its own standards and regulations aimed at attracting more businesses.
Vacancies along the commercial corridor were a concern even before the pandemic, but with 40,000 vehicles passing through daily, it remains a premier location, property owners and leasing agents have told village officials.
However, a study of ways to reduce vacancies in the corridor identified several issues, including the growing demand for service-related businesses instead of retail, the availability of parking and Cook County's taxes, Community Development Director Julie Fitzgerald said.
Among the key changes suggested are a more relaxed and expedited approval process for business proposals, an easing of restrictions on restaurant drive-thrus and more openness to entertainment venues.
Village board members recently provided input on the planned Golf Road District, ahead of its review by Schaumburg's zoning board of appeals later this year.
Their feedback seems to encourage more sit-down restaurants all along Golf Road and a greater openness to drive-thrus and pickup windows west of Meacham Road, Fitzgerald said. East of Meacham -- near Woodfield Mall -- board members want to make official what has always been an informal prohibition against drive-thrus, to encourage sit-down restaurants both inside and outside the mall.
"We don't want to turn the area around Woodfield into a big drive-through area," Mayor Tom Dailly said.
One of the clearest directives board members gave the village staff was to speed the approval process for sit-down restaurants by making them permitted uses under zoning regulations, rather than special uses that require additional review.
Restaurants have always been special uses throughout Schaumburg. Dailly said the requirement was useful during the early years of the village to establish where its commercial areas would be, but along Golf Road it's long outdated.
"Let's face it, Schaumburg is developed," he said. "There's very little true vacant land anymore. Historically it made sense, but if it makes the process easier, let's do this."
Though regulations for drive-thrus west of Meacham Road remain likely, Fitzgerald said the board's feedback acknowledges recent changes in technology and self-standards that could make those rules less stringent.
West of Woodfield, the Golf Road corridor has long been attractive to retailers and car dealerships, both major sources of sales tax revenue.
But the village board is now willing to make children's entertainment venues -- which don't generate sales taxes -- permitted uses rather than special uses along Golf Road.
On the other hand, trustees also are open to expanding their prohibition on other businesses that don't generate sales taxes from the corners of key intersections. Banks already face such a moratorium.
In another sign of Schaumburg's willingness to change its outlook for Golf Road, village officials recently took in an informal pitch for a 208-unit apartment building on the north side of the Hyatt Regency Schaumburg, across from Woodfield.
but Fitzgerald said the draft plan for the new zoning district isn't expected to recommend residential development anywhere else along the commercial corridor.