Glencoe's Downtown TuneUp

Welcome to Glencoe's Downtown Tuneup, the project website and collaborative workspace for residents and stakeholders to interact, share ideas, and help make Downtown Glencoe even better.

Views and News from the Chairman | August 2014

I remember two things about looking for a place to live on the North Shore.

First, the light flooding through the skylights of the house which became my home—and second, talking about that house–and Glencoe– with my husband over dinner at The Village Smithy, a dining landmark on Park Avenue. We loved the house, and we loved the Smithy.

Shortly after I moved here, The Village Smithy closed. So the first Village discussions I remember were among neighbors expressing sadness over the loss of this special, and local, dining institution.  Twenty-five years later, the conversation continues.

As part of the downtown Glencoe TuneUp, we asked for your suggestions.

And among the wonderful, creative and important ideas generated by those who live, work, and shop here….a strong theme stands out. Take a look at the final tallies of the “chalkboard” ideas: eateries were mentioned most often as the suggestion to “make downtown Glencoe better”.

Destinations, where we break bread and share beverages, are part of our sense of community. While this is not surprising, it is the types of eateries suggested which are noteworthy.  Ideas include ice cream parlor, pub, pizza shop, bakery—not the type of establishments designed primarily to draw outsiders to the Village and to impress diners…..but instead, places which, while welcoming to all, would be—at their heart– local institutions patronized by those who live here, or work here, or visit Glencoe to shop or enjoy special amenities such as theatre and music.

I heard, loud and clear, from the chalkboard suggestions and from many thoughtful posts on this web site, that “more restaurants” is not about “image”. It is about enriching the downtown experience and its functions, and it is also about the identity of downtown itself, as a central Village neighborhood where we spend time together.

It is all part of being a community.

The legendary culinary writer M.F.K. Fisher recognized that eating food specially prepared is a positive social experience. She wrote of her own cooking, with its purpose of nourishing “my beloved few…to sustain them truly against the hungers of the world.” Our “local places” to eat and drink and gather together, are extensions of that experience around a table….and this is true whether we linger over latte, or fly out the door in the midst of a busy schedule.

I look forward to talking together about how we can encourage and facilitate these experiences in our central business district.


– Caren Thomas, Chairman at Village of Glencoe Plan Commission

Views and News from the Chairman | July 2014

Kirby, a 12-year resident of the Village, is the most recognized member of our family—especially in town, where he meets-and-greets everyone. I love this about our Village. When I see wolfhounds the size of ponies outside Starbucks, I know my fellow Commissioner Gary Ruben is nearby. And when I admire a dog I’ve never met before, I also meet a neighbor.


Whether you call it “downtown” (contemporary) or “uptown (historic), our Village center embodies what the Danish call “hygge”—coziness and warmth, the art of building community, and taking genuine pleasure in everyday experience. In our Village center we congregate, we bring the kids and the dogs, we shop; we work–and we linger together whenever we can. Our Village center is “hygge”, and it is home.

Now, as part of Glencoe’s regular planning process, it’s time to review the guidelines for this precious resource—formally known as “Chapter 10 of the Comprehensive Plan of the Village of Glencoe”. This includes preparing a planning map for downtown and—eventually—reviewing our appearance review standards and sign ordinance. The Plan Commission is assigned these tasks—and the Commission’s recommendations to the Village Board are advisory only.

Here’s our approach: we are calling this the downtown “TuneUp”.

Why? Because nothing is “wrong”, we are not fixing something that’s broken. We will be thinking about—and I hope you will, too—ways in which the future may impact our small community, ways to safeguard what we cherish, and ways in which our town center can remain “hygge” and thrive as a place to do business, shop, gather, and meet-and-greet some of the most wonderful dogs on the North Shore!

Our 3 Phases:

1. First, we are getting the word out to everyone we can and making it as easy as possible to share your ideas. Many residents are contributing ideas on the chalkboards at Wyman Green; keep those ideas coming, we are recording every one of them.

2. Second, once you know about the TuneUp….join the conversation! We want to listen. We especially want to listen BEFORE we start work on the map or possible edits to Chapter 10. We all know the issues that always come up: the Public Works garage, adequacy of parking, restaurants. What else should we be talking about?

3. Third, the Plan Commission has been asked by the Village Board to prepare a proposed planning map and (if needed) updates to Chapter 10. Share your reactions and suggestions! We want our work to be thoughtful and inclusive. You can help make that happen.

Oh, and there’s one more thing: please say hi to Kirby when you spot him in town. He loves our Village center almost as much as we do.

– Caren Thomas, Chairman at Village of Glencoe Plan Commission

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This entry was posted on August 26, 2014 by in About, News and tagged , , , , , , .

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Taylor Baxter, AICP

Development Services Manager

675 Village Court
Glencoe, IL 60022