Shrouded by forests and a winding road that disappears from sight off Green Bay Road, the seemed to promote exclusivity and detachment from Lake Bluff.
But in his 15-minute talk before the on Monday night, architect Bob Hidey spoke of a Stonebridge that incorporates more aspects of the surrounding Lake Bluff community, such as:
- housing choices which reflect greater diversity.
- walking paths that connect the development to its amenities.
- gathering places for residents and visitors.
Hidey, of Robert Hidey Architects based in Irvine, Calif., is working with The Roanoke Group, which is Stonebridge’s financing partner and project owner. He is expected to return to show some conceptual floor plans to the Village Board within a month, according to Peter Kyte, principal of The Roanoke Group.
- See related story: Village Hopes to Hear Greater Specifics on Stonebridge Development
“This is really the true start of the process as we come back through for approval,” Kyte said. “We’ll be taking those floor plans out to different focus groups, and show them to buyers here and see what they like, criticisms they have.”
Ideas Encourage Former Trustee
The marked change in Stonebridge’s proposed look was enough to bring vocal support from , the former village trustee who consistently has opposed Stonebridge since its inception.
“I think this is a good idea,” Lesser told the Village Board on Monday night. “I have opposed the project in the past for a variety of reasons. I thought it was too dense. I thought it was alien in nature to Lake Bluff with these tract homes that were not a good fit. I’m glad to hear of new ideas, of larger lots. I’m happy to hear about walkability (throughout the development). That’s very important to people in Lake Bluff.”
Lesser added that Stonebridge needs to be seen as part of the community.
“We would like to have this development integrated into the community,” Lesser said. “One of the reasons I always opposed it was it was designed as a standalone, age-segregated community. I like to see it as someplace that has public areas as you mentioned and the ability to use the Manor Home for the Firemen’s Ball and other public events would be a very positive thing for Lake Bluff.”
Current Land Plan Raises Several Questions
Hidey said the current land plan raised more questions than it answered, including why there are attached houses, why there are shared driveways and why there are so many cul-de-sacs.
“They are taking land away from what could be private-use areas,” Hidey said of the cul-de-sacs.
He noted the housing choices are limited to one, and there are no “unique and distinct characteristics that define how these 60-70 houses will actually live.”
“If they all have the same characteristics, you’re going to be there a very long time trying to sell them.
“If we can find ways to diversify where there are a range of different housing solutions that meet a different demographic, the project will be more successful, have broader appeal and create a richer neighborhood,” Hidey said.
Connecting Amenities, Creating Community
Hidey said previous research and drawing on their own living experiences have taught them the value of community walking paths.
“This neighborhood is sort of walkable, you can walk on the streets, but there is no defined path, or destinations that one would want to go to,” Hidey said. “There should be linkage to the forests; there should be connections to the ponds, the ability to find your way to the Manor House. There is no logical way to get there. We can overlay a pedestrian system to get to those amenities.”
Hidey wants to extend the same accessibility to the water areas in Stonebridge, including bringing houses closer to the water and techniques that bring people closer to the water.
The land plan does showcase the Howard Van Doren Shaw Manor home and carriage house, but Hidey believes more “gathering spots” should be included. We need to find places where you can build a gathering spot, even as simply as a picnic table and beautiful garden that people can go to,” Hidey said. “We need places within this land plan where we can provide a sense of community, a sense of place.”