Recapping Wilmette Talk #3

“Housing is multi-faceted; it is not all or nothing. By expanding the size of the pie and having a range of housing for a range of incomes, you end up creating a more vibrant community.” –Richard Koenig, Housing Opportunity Development Corporation

“We are very appreciative of and amazed by our clientele – this is a great community to do business in.” –Dave Zier, Zier’s Prime Meats & Poultry

These are just two quotes of many fascinating insights shared during Tuesday evening’s Wilmette Talk #3. The discussion covered the breadth and depth of two nuanced and complex topics which will be explored further in the Comprehensive Plan.

A sincere thank you from the Ready Set Wilmette team to all who participated, including our fabulous panelists (read more about them here!) and all who attended and asked thought-provoking questions.

The virtual discussion was divided into two parts, with Part 1 focusing on Wilmette’s demographics and housing and Part 2 on business and commerce. Below are a handful highlights from each. View the presentation and watch the full recordings here!

Demographics & Housing

  • Compared to its neighboring communities, Wilmette is generally in the middle in terms of population size, number of households, and median household income.
  • Potential housing needs for the future might include: more units to accommodate multiple demand segments, greater variety of housing types and price points, and updated housing stock with modern features and amenities. (see presentation for detailed data)
  • The discussion of affordable housing consists of two separate points: housing affordability (housing which is naturally affordable for a range of incomes, i.e. some townhomes and condos in Wilmette) and affordable housing (the development of which is supported by a range of resources, i.e. Wilmette’s new Cleland Place).
  • An affordable home for the average hourly worker in Wilmette costs $146,000. Over a 10 year period (2011 to 2021), there were just 111 homes for sale in Wilmette in this price range.

“Housing is important because it directly relates to who we are as a community.”

Mike Braiman, Village Manager

Business & Commerce

  • Reinvented Retail: The challenge in Wilmette is to retrofit a 20th-century community with 21st-century development and retail. Modern uses can’t always fit into existing buildings or lots (i.e. former Treasure Island site can not accommodate a large grocer, but may be able to attract a new small-format grocer).
  • Wilmette has all the right pieces in place to attract retailers – Edens Plaza is a great example with amazing access to transportation, density of high income households, etc.
  • Retailers like to locate next to other successful retailers. Restaurants have revived Village Center, a goal the Village has been working towards since adopting its Village Center in 2010.
  • There need to be different types of retail in different environments (i.e. ground floor retail in a mixed use building vs. standalone stores).
  • The business mix at Linden Square was discussed and will be evaluated further as part of the plan, along with potential for new development.

COVID has forced many retailers to re-invent themselves, which in the long run is going to be good for the industry.”

Brendan Reedy, CBRE

Stay tuned for a new Poll #3 on these subjects and a summary of findings from Poll #2. Happy Friday, Wilmette!