Making way for growth: Pheasant Run Resort buildings coming down; city eyes redevelopment of eastern gateway

The main tower is mostly all that remains of the former Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles  on Monday, Jan. 29, 2024.

Drive into St. Charles from the east, you’ll be greeted by an empty mall and whatever remains standing at the Pheasant Run Resort.

The Von Maur, once touted as a sign of revival at Charlestowne Mall, is the only store that remains open there. At the Pheasant Run Resort, crews are disassembling the iconic hotel tower, floor by floor, as demolition and cleanup of the property nears an end.

City officials are hopeful this will be the year they see redevelopment plans for the shuttered Charlestowne Mall.

Despite the loss of two key economic forces, St. Charles officials are hopeful about what comes next and point to other developments, including Andy’s Frozen Custard and The Pride of Kane County gas station, and even the ongoing demolition of the Pheasant Run Resort as positive signs for growth and redevelopment at the city’s eastern gateway.

“From the east to the west, there’s been quite a bit of redevelopment,” St. Charles Mayor Lora Vitek said. “We still haven’t hit our limit. We continue to bring new and exciting things to our residents and visitors.”

A proposed development at the northeast corner of Kirk Road and Main Street/Route 64 could be the first in a series of new developments in 2024 for the city’s eastern gateway.

Developer GSI Family is expected to present plans this spring for a four-building restaurant and retail plaza just south of a strip mall anchored by a Jewel-Osco grocery store.

St. Charles officials are expected to review plans this spring for a four-building development at the northeast intersection of Kirk Road and Main Street/Route 64. The developer hopes to bring a mix of restaurant and entertainment uses to about 8 acres of vacant land just south of the Jewel strip mall.

The proposed Fox Haven Square would offer 71,000 square feet of retail, entertainment and office space between four buildings. Three of the buildings would share a courtyard suitable for concerts or other events, said Pat Greco, a St. Charles resident and president of GSI Family, which is proposing the development.

Greco could not name any possible tenants but said the project has drawn interest from various restaurants and retailers.

“We’re very bullish on the project,” Greco said, adding that residential development is helping spur interest from businesses looking to serve the city’s growing population. “We believe that our development is going to be a gathering place for a lot of residents and for future residents.”

He noted other developments, such as a new Chick-fil-A planned for the former Chili’s property and nearby residential developments, are helping drive interest in the eastern gateway.

“There’s a lot of investment going on,” said Greco, who hopes to have Fox Haven Square open in 2025.

Charlestowne Mall, which largely closed in December 2017, remains under contract for purchase. UrbanStreet Group hopes to buy the 81-acre property from Krausz Companies, which owns the mall.

Though no formal proposals have been made to redevelop the mall, UrbanStreet is working through its “due diligence” stage, looking at issues such as aging infrastructure, project financing and the condition of the largely vacant mall, officials said.

“They’ve been in constant contact with staff,” Vitek said of UrbanStreet. “It’s not an easy piece of land to develop; it just takes a lot of effort.”

She is optimistic that concept plans will come as early as late spring. Finances are a key component of the project, and though UrbanStreet has not made any requests for tax incentives, Vitek isn’t ruling out the possibility of some tax breaks.

Charlestowne Mall’s two remaining tenants, Classic Cinemas and Von Maur, wish to remain in their buildings.

St. Charles Economic Development Director Derek Conley said he anticipates a mixed-use development that includes Von Maur and Classic Cinemas, both of which remain open at the mall. It would offer some residential, entertainment and additional retail.

Representatives from UrbanStreet Group declined to comment, and a representative for Krausz Companies could not be reached for comment.

The pending demolition of the tower at Pheasant Run Resort will help clear the way for a potential developer, Vitek said. The city anticipates a mix of retail and office uses on the former 34-acre resort property, which fronts Route 64 at the city’s eastern entrance. Covenants on the property do not allow for residential development, and city officials have said they do not want industrial properties fronting Route 64.

The resort, which opened in 1963 and expanded throughout the 1970s and 1980s, closed in 2020. A DuPage County judge last year granted the city’s request to have the remaining buildings razed following numerous police calls and an arson fire in 2022 that damaged part of the tower, The Barn, a restaurant and several smaller buildings.

In its petition to have the shuttered resort demolished, city officials pointed to 349 police calls to the property for trespassing, vandalism and two sexual assaults since the resort closed.

The main tower is mostly all that is left of the former Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles. A small section of a smaller structure, right, remains to the south of the tower  on Monday, Jan. 29, 2024.

“We are happy to see it finally getting cleaned up,” Vitek said.

Razing the property will provide a clean slate for a potential developer, Vitek said. The city also created a tax increment financing district for the Pheasant Run property to help spur redevelopment.

In a TIF district, property values are frozen, and new or increased taxes generated by improvements are used to pay for improvements or other developer incentives.

While Vitek acknowledges redevelopment of the mall and resort properties will take time, she says progress is being made and stresses that both properties are under contract for purchase.

“It’s moving in the right direction,” she said.