A group of St. Charles residents continue to voice their opposition to a proposal to build a 164-room hotel on the former police station site along the Fox River in St. Charles.
The opposition is centered on Frontier Development’s plans for the site. Frontier Development, in partnership with Chicago-based The Prime Group and Architectural Wood Expressions, proposes to build one six-story building and parking garage that would contain 107 residential units, four restaurants, 164 hotel rooms, a spa/fitness center and conference space. An 85,000-square-foot outdoor plaza, two rooftop pools and 750 lineal feet of public riverwalk also are part of the plans.
The project would cost about $150 million to build with the developers asking the city for up to $20 million tax increment financing and revenue sharing financing provided by the city.
St. Charles Mayor Lora Vitek recently said she plans to revisit the redevelopment process in the spring. Discussion of the two concept plans for the site was dropped from the Nov. 14 St. Charles City Council Planning and Development Committee meeting.
“The Frontier Development proposal inexplicably remains on the table for further consideration by the City Council,” resident Mike Kanute said in addressing alderpersons Nov. 14 during the public comment portion of the meeting. “And until it is removed, we will continue to voice strong opposition of the community to that project.”
Canute and his wife, Eileen, who also spoke at the meeting, are part of a group called Citizens for Responsible Development. The group is opposed to the plan for several reasons, including that the proposal is too big for the riverfront and that heavy traffic will overwhelm the surrounding neighborhoods and Main Street.
The group also opposes the proposed $20 million tax increment financing and revenue sharing financing provided by the city.
“The community has been overwhelmingly clear in expressing to you that the Frontier proposal cannot happen,” Mike Kanute said. “The citizens do not want any part of that concept. If you are listening to us, reading your email and seeing the public comments from online sources that we forward to you regularly, then you must know that we do not want a 164-room hotel, which does not fit that site, and if we’re being honest, is bound to fail with the price point starting at $300 a night. We do not want the paved over riverfront that comes with that project. We do not want access to the riverfront walled off from the community. We do not want the massive amount of traffic that will inevitably be created by that project and will ruin the adjacent neighborhood.”
St. Charles residents packed the City Council chambers Oct. 10 to hear about two redevelopment proposals for the former St. Charles police station site. During the City Council’s Planning and Development Committee meeting, Chicago-based Murphy Development Group and Frontier Development, which has been involved with several projects in downtown St. Charles, presented their plans for the land.
Murphy Development Group proposes to build a five- to seven-story building that would house 141 apartments, a restaurant and retail space. The project would cost an estimated $60.5 million, with the developer not seeking any incentives from the city.
More than 1,300 people have signed petitions against the Frontier Development proposal, Kanute said. The group wants the city to start the redevelopment process over again.
“Take your time to review the process and start over,” he said.
Other people also voiced their concerns about the redevelopment plans during the meeting, including Elgin resident Gary Swick. He is president of the nonprofit group Friends Of The Fox River.
The group’s mission is to preserve, restore and protect the Fox River watershed’s resources.
“It’s essential for planners to understand and appreciate the real value of the Fox River to your community,” Swick said in addressing alderpersons. “We are requesting that you consider your impact on and with the Fox River in all of your decision-making. … River towns are really special. You can’t make them. This town was founded because there was a river here.”
Martha Gass, who also is a member of Citizens for Responsible Development, told alderpersons she didn’t think it would be appropriate to build a tall building along the riverfront.
“People come to St. Charles because there is that sense of openness,” she said. “It would be terrible to just take that away.”
In response, Vitek said the city is revisiting the review process and taking some time to accumulate information and data to drive the next decision.
“We do not want to act in haste or based on feeling and emotion,” Vitek said. “We are so fortunate in St. Charles to have expert staff. Some have tenure in our community and some are new to our community and bring a fresh outlook and experiences beyond that of St. Charles. The decision to ask our staff to gather information, data and materials based on their expertise and research to help make a decision is one I will continue to back. I am looking forward to reviewing the information staff gathers over the next few months that will include but is not limited to traffic studies, parking studies, economic vitality information and any other recommendations they bring before the City Council.”
Vitek said resident feedback is integral to the process, has been gathered in various ways and will continue to be accumulated by email, public comments in meetings and City Council interactions.
“Every resident’s opinions and thoughts are important,” she said. “The redevelopment of the former police station site has sparked much discussion, reflecting a variety of viewpoints and sometimes invoking an impassioned response. I welcome the discussion and all discourse that focuses on the positivity of what St. Charles is and what it can be. I will always lead my decisions based on such positivity.”
Vitek said there are many exciting projects going on in St. Charles, including the completion of the First Street Plaza expansion project, new residential development on the city’s east side and future plans for both Charlestowne Mall and Pheasant Run.
“Energy will continue to be spent on these projects as information is gathered to help with decisions about the former police station site,” she said. “I look forward to continuing to lead with positivity, knowing the great work we can accomplish with the guidance of our City Council and efforts of our staff.”