With its sloping topography and limited footprint, a vacant site in downtown Glen Ellyn has vexed developers for years.
But one real estate firm says it’s up to the challenge of redeveloping the former McChesney & Miller grocery store property.
South Bend, Indiana-based Holladay Properties wants to build and manage a roughly $30 million apartment building targeting millennials and empty nesters. The project is gaining momentum after receiving a largely warm reception from village plan commissioners during an informal presentation this week.
“We were encouraged by the plan commission to continue down this road, and that is absolutely our intent,” Holladay Vice President T. Drew Mitchell said Friday.
While some neighbors balk at the building height and call for more parking, most plan commissioners say they’re satisfied with those elements. But they are urging Holladay to add more retail and architectural interest on the building’s north facade.
“I think that we ought to appreciate the challenges with this site, and what the developer proposes, I think is a great accommodation,” Commissioner John Mulherin said.
Preliminary plans call for a five-story building with 86 units at the northwest corner of Crescent Boulevard and Glenwood Avenue. Rents are expected to range from $1,200 to $2,900.
“The towers kind of give the impression of a taller, six-story building, but it’s truly five stories above grade,” Village Planner Kelly Purvis said.
Some residents of the The Legacy Condominiums to the north of the site say the development is too tall, would block their views and would worsen traffic congestion on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Those residents also say the developer needs to provide parking for retail customers and visitors. An enclosed, two-level parking garage would have 104 spaces for the building’s renters.
“The fact that the entry and exits are on Crescent will significantly help any traffic problems that people have said exist on Pennsylvania,” Commissioner Angela Fanella said.
But Fanella and Commissioner David Rodemann encouraged the developer to increase the 1,200 square feet designated for retail. Rodemann also was more tepid about the building height.
“I feel pretty comfortable with the height, even though when you’re standing in front of this building, it will in fact be taller than the 64 feet that’s being projected because of where they’re able to calculate their average grade,” he said.
Mitchell, who works in Holladay’s LaGrange office, said designers would work to enhance the architectural style, but increasing the retail footprint is “trickier.” Mitchell floated a boutique or salon as examples of a street-level tenant.
Holladay also is considering whether to seek tax increment financing dollars — property tax money reserved for redevelopment within an area rather than for local governments — to offset the project’s cost.
“I think for us, the first step is trying to understand whether there’s the potential for the project, and we’ve started to look at economic viability,” Mitchell said.
“We think the project could work. We’re uncertain whether it will need any support at this point or not.”
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