News - Kane County

St. Charles Council may scale back First Street Plaza expansion plans

Plans to expand First Street Plaza in downtown St. Charles continue to move forward. At their Dec. 20 meeting, St. Charles plan commissioners unanimously recommended approval of the plans.

Plans to expand First Street Plaza in downtown St. Charles continue to move forward, but the project could be scaled back if costs run too high.

The St. Charles City Council is set to review the plans Jan. 17 after alderpersons on the City Council’s Planning and Development Committee on Monday unanimously recommended approval of a planned use development preliminary plan for the expansion. During Monday’s committee meeting, St. Charles alderpersons repeated their desire to see how much it will cost to finish the project.

Following approval of the plans, the city plans to go out for bid on the project. Public Works Director Peter Suhr told alderpersons they most likely will have the chance to review the bids next month.

The first phase of the expansion project was completed last spring, which included building a retaining wall along the Fox River and filling in the hole where the Manor Restaurant had been located following its demolition. The second phase of the project includes a plaza featuring a solar pergola trellis along with the installation of public art.

Plans also call for closing a section of First Street to vehicles to create a pedestrian walkway. Completing the project is expected to cost the city $2.5 million.

“A better understanding of the project’s costs is really critical in taking our next steps,” 2nd Ward Alderperson Rita Payleitner said during the meeting.

Other alderpersons agreed, including 4th Ward Alderperson Bryan Wirball.

“I concur with what my colleagues have said about the funding aspect,” he said. “I do have concerns about it.”

During the bidding process, Suhr said the city will be asking for a “breakdown of their entire costs so we can use that to create any answers that you need in regards to cost and what each component of the project costs.”

Site acquisition, design and construction costs for the first phase were approximately $2 million. With grants and donations totaling $794,171 – including a $600,000 grant from Exelon and a $56,153 Kane County Riverboat Grant, the city paid $1.2 million in net costs.

The project’s second and final phase is estimated to cost approximately $3.2 million. With donations received or pledged so far at $671,621, the city would pay approximately $2.5 million.

The St. Charles Initiative, an independent advisory committee under the umbrella of the Community Foundation of the Fox River Valley, is raising funds for the project.

City Administrator Heather McGuire has said fundraising efforts will continue.

“The initiative would absolutely love to hand the city a check for 100% of the project,” she said. “I believe all of the fundraising efforts will continue even it the city decides to fund this project.”