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Stein, Rabchuk: Rogina's Downtown St. Charles Plan Not Enough

Mayoral candidates tout own economic development plans after praises focus on Arcada but says Rogina’s vision for downtown is a good start.

St. Charles mayoral candidates Jotham Stein and John Rabchuk on Monday each responded to 3rd Ward Alderman Ray Rogina’s vision for downtown renewal, with Stein saying the plan does not go far enough and Rabchuk saying he is the only candidate with a comprehensive economic development plan.

“The Arcada Theatre (105 E. Main St.) is a fantastic source of culture and entertainment and building on the Arcada’s accomplishments will certainly help our downtown grow,” Stein said in a statement issued Monday afternoon. “The more the Arcada offers quality shows that people want to see, the more vital our downtown will be and the more tax revenue the city will collect.

“To the extent Mr. Rogina’s plan works to grow downtown’s culture and entertainment offerings, I am all for it. It is a good start, but only a part of what downtown needs, just as Mr. Rabchuk’s bicycle-hub plan, is a good start, but only a part of what downtown needs,” Stein said. “Because it is only a partial solution, Mr. Rogina’s plan to focus growth downtown on the Arcada is shortsighted and too limited in scope.”

Rabchuk Touts Own Plan

In a statement he issued Monday evening, Rabchuk insisted, however, that his bicycle hub proposal, as well as his plan to establish a volunteer corps, are only two parts of a larger economic development plan that is comprehensive in scope and whose aim is to fill the city’s vacant storefronts.

“My proposals to establish St. Charles as a cycling hub and to create STC Corps of volunteers are part of my comprehensive plan to create” a new synergy that enhances and multiplies the city’s existing assets, while making the town a recognized leader in attracting new business, Rabchuk said in a release he issued Monday evening.

“With little cost, we can attract residents and visitors to our downtown and establish a vibrancy that will make St. Charles a desirable destination for new business,” he said. Rabchuk’s plan also includes investigating methods for transforming the Fox River into a diverse recreational asset, and turning the First Street Plaza into a high foot-traffic hub with regularly scheduled entertainment.

Stein: Diverse Businesses Needed

Stein said the city needs a mix of all types of businesses on both the East and West sides of St. Charles, saying such diversity will be healthier for the city’s economy than focusing on one type of business or industry.

“To focus the revitalization of downtown on the Arcada, as Mr. Rogina wants to do, or on bicycle events as Mr. Rabchuk wants to do, will not maximize growth nor create a truly flourishing downtown. We need to focus on recruiting all types of businesses to downtown. Not just entertainment businesses, not just bicycle businesses, but all types of businesses.”

Stein, who has made economic development a key focus of his campaign, added that “my top priority as mayor will be to use my more than 20 years of experience giving business and legal advice to companies of all sizes to recruit a mix of businesses to all of St. Charles — to downtown, to the East Side and to the West Side.

“Instead of seeing businesses leave St. Charles or close altogether, as mayor, I will actively recruit new business investment to St. Charles, nurture start-up businesses, and help businesses that are here but struggling,” Stein said. “I am proud that the St. Charles Chamber of Commerce recently awarded me the 2012 Charlemagne Award for Community Development for investing in downtown by moving my office to a historic building and renovating it.  As mayor, when I recruit businesses to our city, the companies will see my commitment to our city and that I have done exactly what I am asking them to do — invest in St. Charles.”

Rabchuk Details Plan

Rabchuk said he is the only candidate with a specific comprehensive plan for achieving this goal.

He said that his work on several civic board in recent years has demonstrated to him the difficulties in pitching the city’s commercial and industrial opportunities in a positive light.

“It’s a tough sell against the visual backdrop of too many empty storefronts, two mall sites in need of redevelopment, and a sluggish manufacturing base,” he said. “The first part of my plan is to address this issue by making St. Charles into a more attractive location for business. A healthy, vibrant community is a vital cornerstone for economic growth.”

Noting his own work on the 2013 draft Comprehensive Plan, Rabchuk said it offers specific approaches for redeveloping the old St. Charles Mall site and the Charlestown Mall area, as well as lays out goals and steps for pumping new life into the city’s industrial and manufacturing areas, and better using the city’s gateways.

He pointed to the plan’s discussion of reconfiguring the Charlestowne Mall site. “By realigning the east-west traffic through the mall site, it’s possible to create a significant number of desirable out-lots … (that) would be ideal sites for high-end retail and chain restaurants that prefer to locate on the edge of high-traffic areas,” Rabchuk said.

Related:

  • Feb. 17, 2013: Rogina Outlines Vision for St. Charles Central Business District Renewal

 

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David Amundson February 19, 2013 at 06:45 PM
Very interesting to hear that Mr. Rabchuk is now so interested in helping the manufacturing base here in St. Charles. Too bad he was apparently not aware of his own position when he publicly voiced his support for the Lexington Club development and became the face of the deeply divided City Council vote. One of the interesting things about that development that Mr. Rabchuk seemingly failed to consider is that the site is ringed by no fewer than six light industrial / manufacturing firms, all of which had either the owners, the employees, or both, sign the petition that was filed with the City expressing opposition to the Lexington Club development. In short, those businesses are all deeply concerned that the development of 130 new homes in such close quarters to their operations will have a detrimental effect on them. Ignoring those very legitimate concerns and marginalizing the voices of those owners and employees by publicly urging the City Council to plow ahead and approve the project over their objections seems, to me, to be a very funny way of showing how one plans to support the manufacturing base here in St. Charles.
Sue Klinkhamer February 19, 2013 at 11:23 PM
How about finishing up First Street? That was much more than a plan. It was a vision to change the downtown by making it a mixed use project where people could live, work and shop. We are one of the few cities that have a grocery store in their downtown. We did everything to make sure the Blue Goose stayed and thrived. I think the Arcada can also be a project with long term benefits.
Michael Mak February 20, 2013 at 11:05 PM
Please finish up the First Street Project !! To go past the vacant land where Blue Goose and Manor House use to be for 3 years, and see that Eye sore for the City is ridiculous. Lets get a mayor that can make something Happen, and Quick!! Scrap the Condo Plans. Lets get a Family/Pancake type restaurant there and save some park space ! (Really if you look at the project as a whole right now, I liked it the old way). I miss Vi's , I miss Manor House, I miss the Old Blue goose. Lets make up for this mess and make it right!!

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