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First Street Phase 3 Focusing on Marketing Residential, Then Retail

Developer Robert Rasmussen presents a revised concept plan for the three-building project on the west bank of the Fox River in St. Charles.

An artist’s rendering shows an elevation of Building 1 and Building 2 of Phase 3 of the First Street Redevelopment Project in downtown St. Charles, Ill. | Credit: First Street Development LLC
An artist’s rendering shows an elevation of Building 1 and Building 2 of Phase 3 of the First Street Redevelopment Project in downtown St. Charles, Ill. | Credit: First Street Development LLC

A developer on Monday night told the St. Charles aldermen Monday that marketing of Phase 3 of the First Street Redevelopment Project is focused on leasing the residential component in the belief that doing so will draw retailers later.

Robert Rasmussen appeared before aldermen meeting as the City Council Planning and Development Committee to present a revised concept plan for Phase 3 of the First Street project. His presentation came less than a week after he made a similar presentation to the St. Charles Plan Commission.

There was no vote by aldermen — just as there was no vote by plan commissioners on Jan. 7 — since the purpose of the presentation was to elicit official input on the revised plans.

Despite initial skepticism expressed by aldermen late last year, the committee members appeared more receptive to the plans on Monday, although some still have reservations.

Ward 1 Alderman Ron Silkaitis voiced concern about Rasmussen’s references to office space on the first levels of Buildings 1 and 2, which would be the first to be built under the current plan.

Silkaitis pointed out that the city’s original concept for the First Street Redevelopment was to bring new retailers into the downtown, not the office space envisioned in the plan’s latest rendition.

But Rasmussen pointed to the number of vacant retail space that already exists downtown, adding that more vacancies are likely in the First Street area. The downtown, he said, still lacks the numbers of residents needed not only to attract retailers, but also to ensure their success.

Selling the first level for office space makes sense in the current market, Rasmussen said.

The city approved the planned use development ordinance for the First Street Redevelopment project in 2006, envisioning its construction in five phases on 7.6 acres of property along 1st Street between Prairie and Main streets.

While the first two phases were built from 2007 to 2009, the project has languished ever since, a result of the Great Recession of 2007.

Economic conditions appear to be improving, and the city’s bond indebtedness related to the tax increment financing district for First Street likely is fueling city officials’ desire to see movement on the next phases.

Because market conditions are not what they were in 2006, developers have scaled back the concept plans for Phase 3, which originally was envisioned as four buildings and a parking deck.

The latest concept plan has three buildings — Buildings 1 and 2, adjacent to First Street — would have office space/retail on the first floor, and three floors of studio and two-bedroom apartments on the upper levels. Residences in Building 3, a five-story structure overlooking the Fox River, would be condominiums. The center of the development would be a two-level parking deck to the south and a plaza to the north.

First Street LLC’s next step likely will be to formally request approval of a new planned unit development preliminary plan for Phase 3.

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Lois Lane January 14, 2014 at 10:22 AM
Please tell me the actual building is NOT going to look like this rendering. If these buildings are on the east side and the parking garage is on the west isn't 1st street going to seem like you're driving through a dark tunnel? I vote that 1st Street stays the way it is right now.
Tim J. January 14, 2014 at 10:33 AM
What is this Towne Centre, who is going to buy a condo next to apartments next to the same style building. This is a developers scam. By law if you cannot sell the condos in a 6 month time frame the developer can rent them. Looking at the current condo selling time in that area, it is almost certain they will become rentals, forever. Who buys a new condo thats been rented for a few years????????? Our aldermen need to ask the right question.


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