Village of Riverwoods

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Empty Nester Housing in Riverwoods?

January/February 2013

A Letter From the Mayor

The Village of Riverwoods owns 7.5 acres of land on Chianti Trail, across from Village Hall. There have been a number of ideas for using this land but it remains vacant. I would like to share with you my idea for developing this land. I am also asking for your input before I share it with the Village Board.

A little background may be helpful. The Village acquired the properties gradually from their long-time residents. The Village Board reasoned that the location was valuable and uniquely useful to the Village and therefore proceeded to assemble the parcels.

At the first acquisition, one idea was to sell part of the land when prices recovered so that the Village would own the balance with little invested. Some trustees and residents felt the Village should take the opportunity to preserve these woodlands as open space.

There are many residents in the Village who have no good options for staying in the Village once their children move out and they begin to downsize. They would love to stay in Riverwoods.

So I believe the site should be transformed into a cluster of single family homes designed for empty nesters — an age-restricted community. Homes would be high quality, with each owner holding title to just enough land to contain the house. All the rest of the land would be common areas with covenants to preserve the woodlands.

The appropriate zoning would need to be worked out after hearings and public comment. There are many factors about this site which can be included as a set of qualifying conditions so that few, if any, other parcels in the Village would ever qualify under the terms of the zoning we would need to approve.

Because the Village owns the land, we can contractually set the terms on which a developer would be allowed to proceed. For example, we can specify that the homes would be offered to current Riverwoods residents prior to the general public. We would look to a developer to accomplish the project as a strictly private undertaking.

In empty nester projects, the homes often have a first floor master bedroom and a smaller second story. I would think these homes should be about 2,500 square feet. All exterior maintenance would be provided by a homeowners’ association. This development could be regulated to remain very sensitive to the environment while providing great housing for seniors.

I would appreciate your feedback, pro or con, on whether you believe the Village should explore an empty nester housing development on Chianti Trail. Please also let me know whether you would ever consider this housing option for yourself. I will then share your responses with the Village Board.

Please email me at or write me at:

Mayor John Norris
Village of Riverwoods
300 Portwine Road
Riverwoods, IL 60015

I value you opinion and await your reply.

John Norris
Mayor of Riverwoods

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