Less than a week after receiving a 4-1 recommendation from the St. Charles Planning Commission, aldermen on Monday night pushed toward their first formal City Council vote on the proposed $70 million relaunch of Charlestowne Mall.
Aldermen voted unanimously, during a special City Council Planning and Development Committee meeting, to recommend formal City Council approval of an amendment changing the planned-unit development ordinance for the property.
St. Charles Planning Division Manager Russell Colby told aldermen the PUD ordinance amendment reflects the intent of SC Main 3800 LLC, the contract buyer of the mall, to subdivide and sell outlots on the site to new retailers. Attached to the PUD ordinance amendment, Colby said, will be a map of the developer’s concept plan to illustrate the developer’s design intent for the site.
The original PUD ordinance, which was approved in 1988, reflected the original plan for the mall, which opened in 1991, as just one building. Colby said the St. Charles Community Development staff is taking advantage of the need to change the PUD so that the amendment ordinance will reflect the today’s development standards for building design and landscaping in St. Charles, 25 years after the PUD’s original adoption.
Some Advise Caution
While some have urged aldermen let the developer proceed with as little restraint as possible, two residents on Monday advised the committee to proceed cautiously so that the mall’s redevelopment is done well and to ensure its long-term success.
Curt Henningson, a member of the Planning Commission who said he was speaking as a resident, stressed that he is not opposed to the improvement of Charlestowne Mall. Nevertheless, he said, he has concerns.
“... I am here to point out that the execution of the conceptual site plan may be problematic based on the information that has been supplied to me,” he told aldermen. He did not elaborate and declined to do so after the meeting.
Also expressing some concern was former mayoral candidate John Rabchuk, who advised aldermen to be aware that the developer’s plan to subdivide the property and to sell outlots on the site should be watched closely.
While in support of the development of the outlots, Rabchuk cautioned that if the development and sale of the outlots outpaces improvements to the mall itself, the upgrades to the mall might be allowed to fall to the wayside, leaving the mall to continue to stagnate, even as the area around it does not.
“The intent here is to sell all these outlots and to subdivide it,” he said. “If you do that, and I’m not objecting to that per se … but you’ve got to think through what can happen if the outlots are successful before the mall is done.
“So is there a way to tie that subdivision to this to make sure the mall” redevelopment is completed as well? he asked.
Rabchuk also asked whether any public funds will be used on the mall redevelopment project. Ward 1 Alderman Dan Stellato, who chairs the City Council Planning and Development Committee, said it is still too early in the process to know, although there could be options such as assistance through a tax increment financing district or the sharing of sales tax revenue for such projects. Stellato did say that the city, however, has no plans to consider a TIF for the mall project.
The City Council is set to formally consider the PUD changes on Monday, Nov. 4, 2013.
Oct. 29, 2013: Ward 1 Alderman Dan Stellato said Tuesday that he did not advocate the use of TIF funding for the project on Monday night. During that discussion, he simply acknowledged, during his exchange with John Rabchuk, that a TIF is one possibility among many. Rabchuk had said he did not believe TIF funding was an option. Stellato simply pointed out that it could be. However, Stellato did say that the city would not be considering a TIF for the mall project.
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