Village officials in Wilmette recently granted final approval to a North Shore developer planning to build a residential and retail project featuring 109 luxury apartments and street-level retail venues.

Developer Optima, Inc., which has locations in Glencoe and Scottsdale, Ariz., plans to break ground on the downtown Village Center project in late 2021. The site at 1210 Central Ave. will be turned into a transit-oriented development across the street from the Metra commuter train station on Green Bay Road.

“Obviously, the pandemic has been difficult for our businesses, like restaurants, retail shops, gyms and hair stylists,” said John Adler, Wilmette’s community development director.

In tough economic times, village officials see an opportunity in the new development.

“From the village’s standpoint, increasing the density downtown and throughout the village will ultimately help find a way to be able to stay afloat by bringing in new residents who are loyal to their local businesses,” Adler said.

Optima CEO David C. Hovey, whose firm completed the 660-unit Optima Old Orchard Woods condominium development in 2010, said he is excited to be back in the North Shore.

Hovey said the final approval of the Wilmette project arrives as Optima launches construction of Optima Lakeview, a mixed-use, transit-oriented development of 198 apartments and street-level retail at 3460 N. Broadway in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, which is scheduled to be completed in 2022.

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