Geneva aldermen reject Mill Race redevelopment plan

Committee’s unanimous vote kills building proposal

GENEVA – The Geneva City Council has rejected a redevelopment plan for the former Mill Race Inn site.

In a special committee-of-the-whole meeting on Monday, the council’s 10 aldermen voted unanimously against the Shodeen Family Foundation’s proposal for the property at the southwest corner of routes 38 and 25, along the east bank of the Fox River just south of the State Street bridge.

Shodeen’s proposal included a 56-foot-tall building with 116 rental apartments, eight townhouses and 2,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space and 155 covered parking spaces.

Council members said the proposed building design is simply too large.

“I have received dozens of emails from residents who are completely unhappy with the proposed plan,” 4th Ward Alderman Jeanne McGowan said. “People don’t like the size of the building. I don’t feel the size of this project is right for the location."

Shodeen purchased the Mill Race property and then hosted a series of charrette meetings in conjunction with the city last year, exploring different designs and uses for the property and aimed at gaining public input.

Last July, city officials and Shodeen discussed revisions to the plan that emerged after the charrette meetings.

“I’m struggling to see how the community’s input has been reflected,” 5th Ward Alderman Craig Maladra said. “I don’t see how the proposal has changed much since July. It remains out of scale for what the Geneva brand is. I don’t think that we’re there."

With the defeat of the resolution to move forward, a second proposal on the city’s financial participation in the project was rendered moot. Plans called for the city to use $12 million in tax-increment financing district money to finance public improvements in connection with the project.

The council’s decision effectively kills the mixed-use plan and likely will send Shodeen back to the drawing board.

“It’s over. It’s dead,” Shodeen Construction President Dave Patzelt said after the meeting. “We have no alternative plan.”

While Shodeen could easily build a less-ambitious project, it is unclear what the developer may do next.

“We have to absorb what just happened,” Patzelt said.

The decision was expensive for the city, which is now legally on the hook for Shodeen’s $136,700 share in the cost of hosting the charrettes and other planning for the development.