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Developers provide additional details about plans for former St. Charles police station site

Frontier Development, along with Chicago-based The Prime Group, 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.

Two developers in the running to redevelop the former St. Charles police station site along the Fox River are providing more details about their visions for the site.

During a special St. Charles City Council workshop meeting July 25, alderpersons reviewed four proposals for the site. In September 2019, the department’s new $24.6 million state-of-the-art police station at 1515 W. Main St. opened. The new 56,000-square-foot station replaced the department’s former quarters at 211 N. Riverside Ave., portions of which date back almost 100 years.

The majority of alderpersons voiced their preference for two of the four proposals. That includes a proposal by Frontier Development, which has been involved with several projects in downtown St. Charles.

Frontier Development, along with Chicago-based The Prime Group, 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 a $20 million incentive.

Alderpersons also voiced their preference for a proposal submitted by Chicago-based Murphy Development Group that calls for the construction of a five- to seven-story building that would house 138 apartments, one restaurant and 3,000 square feet of commercial space. The project would cost an estimated $60.5 million, with the developer not seeking any incentives from the city.

St. Charles Economic Development Director Derek Conley asked Frontier Development about the target market for the proposed hotel and why it thought it would be successful.

“Currently the driving force behind St. Charles tourism is the wedding business,” Frontier wrote in its response to the question. “Youth sports, corporate business events and day-trippers engaging in large-scale events hosted in the city, social media and active lifestyle pursuits are also significant drivers of hotel stays in the area. Currently, five of the major hotels in St. Charles are projecting a 90% to 92% occupancy trend on the weekends through October. We believe the demand generators will be sufficient to support an additional and unique luxury hotel experience.”

Conley also asked why Frontier Development believes four restaurants can be successful without negatively impacting the existing downtown restaurants. In response, Frontier Development stated the proposed four restaurants would be distinctly different.

One of the restaurants would be a hotel bar and restaurant. Also planned is a small throwback steakhouse, an upscale rooftop cocktail lounge and a French style patisserie focused on breakfast/lunch service with coffee and a full-service bakery.

“Based on local demographics and proprietary evidence of the ability to attract customers from multiple markets, there is currently substantial room for growth in the hospitality industry without harming established businesses in the area,” Frontier Development replied. “As we continue to build a critical mass of elevated dining experiences, that reach will expand along with the customer base and success of all local business.”

A proposal submitted by Chicago-based Murphy Development Group calls for the construction of a five- to seven-story building that would house 138 apartments, one restaurant and 3,000 square feet of commercial space. The project would cost an estimated $60.5 million, with the developer not seeking any incentives from the city.

Regarding Murphy Development Group’s proposal, Conley noted its proposal is predominantly residential and asked the developer to explain why residential was the best use for the property and if it would be open to including additional commercial uses on the site.

“Residential is clearly a market that supports development,” Murphy Development Group stated in its reply. “Some amount of retail should be included in the project, but we see this as more amenities than a local or regional draw. Office and hotel are very difficult to develop and finance these days. We are open to a discussion about how other uses can be incorporated into a feasible, marketable program for the project. Note in our revised design we have added a retail space at the southeast corner of the building.”