Village of Gurnee--East Grand Design Guideline Overlay



Remove obsolete elements, Repair damage and improve facades

Some commercial buildings in the East Grand Gateway area have had a succession of signs, awnings, and facade coverings added over a number of years that have produced a non-unified appearance to the buildings. Remnants of these items are detracting from the appearance of the buildings. Old, unused and obsolete hardware (i.e., sign supports and metal hooks) and signs painted directly on building walls should be removed from the facade. Any damage from the installation or removal of the hardware should be repaired. Holes should be patched with materials and color consistent with the surrounding building area.

Materials added in a piecemeal fashion since the original construction should be removed. Mansard roofs, aggregate stone panels, and wood ornamentation covering original brick, stone, or glass should be considered as to the relation to the integrity of the original design and if appropriate, replaced with a uniform design theme.

Building deterioration should be repaired. Broken bricks, rusted window frames, and cracked glass should be replaced with materials that match the original materials or remodeled with a uniform design theme.

  • One of the quickest and easiest ways to improve the appearance of a building is to clean it.
  • Brick, terra cotta, dry-vit and stucco should be steam cleaned or washed with a mild chemical solution when necessary. Sandblasting these materials is not recommended. It can scar the building surface and allow moisture to enter.
  • Brick is a durable material that is inexpensive to maintain. It should be painted only if the surface has been seriously damaged. If so, it must be properly sealed and painted with high quality paint, to prevent any cracking and peeling.
  • Major remodeling is appropriate for especially plain, undistinguished buildings with little architectural character. In some cases, exceedingly plain buildings detract from the appearance of the area and surrounding community. Concrete block buildings, or buildings covered in wood or vinyl siding, with no distinctive architectural features, often are inconsistent visually with nearby buildings. Often, in these cases, major redesign of the building is required. New and remodeling building plans should be designed to blend with the style, proportion, and materials of neighboring buildings. Using brick rather than plastic or metal is encouraged.

Buildings: Height and Form

Building location--For future buildings, the preferred location is a short distance from the primary access road. The parking lot should be located on the side and rear lots when possible (See Figure 1.)

Offsets--For buildings with multiple stories, offsetting secondary and tertiary stories is encouraged. This mitigates the bulkiness of a block-shaped building (See Figures 2 and 3.)

Building form--As illustrated in Figures 4 and 5, diversity in building height and roof shapes (such as arches and pitches) create aesthetically pleasing lines and shapes, which invite shoppers and eliminates monotony of the streetscape. Architectural appurtenances add texture and diversity within a building. A pleasing line-of-sight is offered to drivers and pedestrians. Avoiding the appearance of a flat roofline is strongly encouraged. Another benefit is the screening of rooftop mechanical equipment.

Eaves and Cornices--Eaves and cornices soften the ajoinment of a roof with the walls of a building creating an attractive building with distinctive character (See Figure 5.)

Transition of building heights and setbacks should also consider the relationships of adjacent buildings and heights. Heights and setbacks should not exceed relationships of 1 to 1-1/2 of transitions from building to building (see Figure 6.)

Facades--Tailored facades add richness and texture to a "face" of a building. Detailing shall be simple and in keeping with the character of the building itself and surrounding buildings (See Figure 7.)

Building Materials

The use of brick, stone and terra cotta is encouraged as it is durable and ties in well with surrounding buildings. When wood is used, it should be painted and weather proofed. When two different building materials are used, an integration, using color or form, should be established from one material to the other (See Figure 8.)
  • Use a maximum of three colors on a single building. Muted or natural tones (earth tones) are attractive during all seasons of the year. Elements such as windows, trim, eaves, and cornices should be painted in colors that complement the main color of the building.
  • Color should be compatible with that of neighboring buildings or storefronts. However, to avoid monotony, adjacent buildings should not be the same color.
  • Bright or brilliant colors shall be used sparingly and only in limited instances for accents (See Figure 9.)

Windows and Doors

Repair and improvement--Original door and window openings should be restored to recapture the scale and lines of the original building. Cracked and broken door and windowpanes should be re-glazed.

Glass--Generally clear glass (recognizing that slightly tinted glass is used for energy efficiency reasons) is the principal type of glass permitted for windows. Use of opaque windows may be allowed however, they are typically less inviting to customers. This is a safety issue as well as an aesthetic one. In some instances when shaded windows are appropriate to provide privacy (i.e., a medical office), an opaque window may be considered.

Shutters--Window shutters may be used, but should appear to be capable of properly covering the windows.

Materials and finish--Aluminum, steel, or vinyl cased wood windows may be used. They should have an appropriate finish and color which is a part of the overall color scheme of the building.

Proportions--New, improved and renovated buildings should encompass a pedestrian scale design (See Figure 10.)

Principal Entries--One principal building entry along the primary access road is encouraged. However, because parking located to the side and rear of the building is also encouraged, it may be most practical for the primary entrance of the building to be located to the side and rear of building, closest to the parking.

Secondary Entries--An additional entrance located along the front of the building, which is closest to the primary access road, may be allowed. The number of additional entries will be in accordance with the Village fire codes (See Figure 11.)

Entries to loading areas or similar entries including any entry with an overhead door should be oriented within the property and should not be visible from abutting streets or from adjacent properties. Screening in these areas and entryways is required.

Awnings, canopies etc. (design aspect) - Use of awnings, canopies or other design features is encouraged only if they do not detract from the building's intended design or hamper pedestrian or vehicular circulation (See Figures 12 and 13.)

Franchise Architecture

New franchise architecture (a generic design that is repeated throughout different locations by a particular corporation, without consideration of a specific site or climate) shall follow these Design Guidelines and create buildings that blend in with the existing environment and are sensitive to their surroundings (See Figures 14 and 15.)


Curbs--The number and location of curb cuts off municipal streets, as well as off Grand Avenue, should be reviewed for compliance with current Village codes and policies. The potential reduction of curb cuts directly off Grand Avenue should be pursued with possible consolidation of cuts between properties, allowing for improved access and circulation internally between properties. Existing curb cuts that violate current codes and policies should be eliminated.


Storage--Outside storage is not permitted. All storage of materials, equipment, and commercial vehicles is to be within the building or an approved structure. Limited outside storage of display vehicles or materials as a part of an allowed special use under the Village Zoning Ordinance may be considered. Additional guidelines addressing outside storage are included under the Streetscapes' "Display Vehicle" section.



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The Village of Gurnee / Planning and Zoning / East Grand Design Guideline Overlay / Structures and Facades / Last Revised 05/29/02