By Michael Romain
Last week, I sat down with Jerry Kurzac, a consultant for LLC 1, the property developer behind the soon-to-open McDonald’s restaurant on 5th and Roosevelt. He talked about how his company landed Maywood’s newest commercial tenant, his plans for future development and his coordination with Village government throughout the process.
Briefly describe the process of bringing a McDonald’s franchise into Maywood.
Once Maurice King, of McDonald’s real estate division, expressed interest and recommended the site to the company, we sat down with them and we negotiated a land lease, which keeps them here for 20 years with optional renewals after that. They select their own franchisees, so we have no part in that decision. We’re strictly landowners and land developers. We plan on doing what we did with McDonald’s with the remaining three acres we own on Roosevelt Road.
What additional development are you trying to attract?
Well, we’re taking into consideration the fact that we’re sitting across the street from a medical campus. Do we just go after your typical strip mall development? We want to attract the right tenants — whether they be Starbucks or Kinkos. We’re also considering possible dormitory extension for Loyola’s nursing students.
But if you consider the fact that you have a Walgreens on 17th and Roosevelt and a Walgreens on 1st and Lake, it would be ideal to have a CVS on 5th and Roosevelt, which is the intersection of the gateway to the hospitals. So people are coming into and out of the medical complex with subscriptions. It would even be a wise corporate decision for Walgreens to relocate one of their stores to this site. We’re currently in conversations with probably 5-10 national tenants. They seem very interested and definitely want to consider moving forward. In fact, we’re in the process of producing land surveys to see which tenant would be most feasible.
What input does the Village government have in your development process?
We coordinate basically all of our moves with the Village. We try to get preliminary approvals and understandings from the Village as to new national tenants that we’re looking to bring here. The Village has always been very open to working with us and expanding this idea since it began 2 1/2 years ago. In particular, Angela Smith of Economic Development, Mayor Yarbrough’s office, the zoning board and the Board of Trustees who were in office at the time this came up for approval were all very helpful.
We’re in agreement with the Village that McDonald’s coming here will drive more development of this kind into town and along the Roosevelt Road corridor. When you get a national tenant of McDonald’s caliber, other national tenants will want to immediately be located next to them, because of the traffic the chain generates.
How relevant has the Comprehensive Plan been to this development process?
I think that everything we’re doing in relation to this McDonald’s site, we’re doing in accordance to the comprehensive plan put in place by the Village. As you go into a project and begin attracting tenants, you almost want to go back to the Plan to see if what we’re doing is in accordance to it. And of course, there are also the questions of whether we can improve the plan. For instance, have we ever taken into consideration that we are sitting across the street from these major medical institutions? I think, right now, we’re at a point where we need to not only think about the kind of tenants coming to the corridor, but also what purpose those tenants are going to serve for the community of Maywood and for the medical institutions sitting across the street from us.
You may or may not have been familiar with a group of citizens (Maywood Organized Voters Emerged and Engaged) who got together and planned a forum addressing some key issues concerning the new McDonald’s development. Among other things, they wanted to know whether or not Maywoodians were going to be given priority in the hiring process.
We don’t have much of a say in regard to who McDonald’s hires. Right now, they’re 30-45 days away from opening and applications for employment are outside the doors of other chains in the area. But these national tenants and big companies usually have their own policies that you can’t bend on, even as it relates to the construction. They have their own proceedings where they give out their own proposals for bids.
What other development have you, and are you currently, working on in the Village of Maywood?
We feel that there are some great opportunities for economic development in Maywood. We’ve done affordable housing in town. We’re looking at the Widow’s Home, along with the corner lot adjacent to it on 1st and Lake. We’ve looked at several options and because of the history that the Widow’s home carries, the wish of the community is to see the property brought back to life as a historic landmark. So, our plan would be to convert the Home, along with the land beside it, into commercial retail space. We do have a national tenant that has already expressed interest in the 1st and lake area. VFP