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WAUKEGAN, IL-This city’s lakefront has long been its most underutilized asset, as many of its original industrial uses have left town or gone out of business. However, city officials have put out a call to Washington, DC-based Urban Land Institute to help them prepare a master plan for redeveloping land along Lake Michigan paralleled by railroad tracks industrial buildings, a sewage treatment plant and marina.

ULI managing director for advisory services Mary Beth Corrigan says she has had discussions with the city about sending an advisory services panel to the city to study the lakefront. ULI’s advisory services panels have helped such cities as Kenosha, WI, just a few miles north of Waukegan along the lakefront.

Corrigan concedes her knowledge of Waukegan and its lakefront is limited to telephone conversations with city officials and photographs. She can draw at least one conclusion of the city’s early planning efforts, however. “They just didn’t like the water,” she quipped.

ULI’s cost to the city would be $110,000, Corrigan says. A panel of eight to 10 experts in various disciplines would spend a week in Waukegan, giving ULI staff members its recommendations on its way home.

“They would have no bias, nothing to lose, and nothing to gain,” Corrigan tells GlobeSt.com. “We not only look at the physical land planning, but development strategies, phasing of development and how to pay for it.”

ULI’s staff would then prepare a report and deliver it to the city. With her staff’s current workload, an advisory services panel would not be visiting Waukegan until 2002, assuming an invitation from city officials is forthcoming.

The city reportedly has been buying up lakefront property for future development, while there has been some interest in new industrial uses for some parcels. Meanwhile, at least one developer has been eyeing a parcel at the eastern end of Belvidere Road for a casino, but the only available license appears likely to end up in northwest suburban Rosemont.

However, a ULI panel probably would bring fresh eyes to this gritty north suburban city’s lakefront.

“What the panel does is look at the realities for that community,” Corrigan says. “Sometimes what it takes is unbiased people coming in, and they don’t have an agenda.”

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