HP Zoning Commission Recommends Approval of Dior Cafe

The Highland Park Zoning Commission voted Feb. 28 to recommend the town council approve — with conditions — the opening of a new Christian Dior café in Highland Park Village.

The recommendation to permit a zoning change was contingent on limits that reduce the café’s impact on traffic and parking. Those include: 

  • That the vacated Starbucks space not be filled with another restaurant.
  • That the café be an “accessory use” to the new Dior store.
  • That the café not add outdoor seating, or expand its seating, footprint, or hours.
  • That the site plan amendment request not include any modifications to the existing parking site plan.
  • And that the Village not make additional requests to open or expand food or beverage establishments, or make additional requests that increase parking demand, until the town adopts new parking guidelines for the center.

“We are pleased with the outcome from the zoning commission meeting and look forward to the opening of the new flagship Dior store this Fall,” Highland Park Village chief marketing officer Victoria Snee said.

If the town council follows the commission’s recommendation and approves the Village’s request, its Dior café would be only the second in the country.

Neighbors met with representatives from Highland Park Village and real estate services firm Masterplan prior to the zoning commission meeting to express their concerns, and several spoke in opposition to the requested change.

Neighbor David Gravelle told the commission that he worried about the safety of children due to traffic around the Village, and that changes to the exterior of the Dior store were “antithetical to the design” of that section of the shopping center.

“You’re adding more bulk traffic volume,” he said. “You’re also adding them on slender streets.”

Resident Paul Schoonover told the zoning commission that demand is too high at Highland Park Village, and that customers would wait in line for a seat in the Dior café. The Village’s owners, he said, “have created a demand that is far beyond the capacity of the center and available parking to handle.” 

Masterplan president Dallas Cothrum said that Highland Park Village would continue working with residents to improve parking and traffic. The Dior café, he explained, was a step in the right direction and would have the effect of replacing Starbucks, the center’s “busiest operator,” with a less intensive use.

“What’s in it for the neighbors is we’re doing what they’ve asked us to,” he said. “Now, we deserve to be kicked in the shin. We’ve acted imperfectly in the past, but this is a first step, I think an important one, in we’re listening, we’re asking for less.”

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