Developers propose apartments, townhouses on downtown Glen Ellyn site

Look around the east side of Glen Ellyn’s downtown and you’ll begin to see how the area is taking on a new look with a burst of development.

A five-level parking garage opened last month behind the Civic Center. The village plans to build a new Metra train station and pedestrian tunnel, a major project slated to begin in 2024. And now developers could help reshape the area with a four-story residential building at Duane Street and Forest Avenue.

Sitting on more than an acre, the proposed development would replace a former U.S. Bank branch and an adjacent office-residential building with apartments, townhouse units and underground parking. Village planners have called that portion of the block a “catalyst site” for its untapped potential.

“We see this particular site as a very unique opportunity and a very sensitive one within Glen Ellyn and felt that it deserved very careful study and a unique solution,” said Warren James, a principal of Reva Development Partners, in an informal meeting with village trustees.

The Chicago-based real estate firm is responsible for Avere on Duane, the recently completed apartment complex across the street from the Glen Ellyn Public Library on the opposite side of the downtown. There, developers skewed toward larger, two-bedroom units to appeal to empty nesters. Monthly rent for two-bedrooms started at more than $3,000.

As of this week, nearly 85% of the 48 units in the boutique apartment building are leased, Reva principal Matt Nix said.

“It really validates our thesis that there’s a lot of demand for people who are looking to downsize,” Nix said. “They’re taking advantage of a strong home-sale market, but they still want to stay in the area.”

Reva’s next project in Glen Ellyn is designed with a broader mix of unit types and amenities. Preliminary plans call for the townhouse units to front Duane Street in the building’s lower floors. Developers also are exploring the possibility of a penthouse level.

“The feedback we’re getting from our leasing folks is there’s demand for even larger units,” Nix said.

The development is unique in its layout. The proposal shows an H-shaped building with a private terrace facing Prairie Path Park to the north.

Reva has floated the idea of a food kiosk, a coffee or Italian ice stand, that would give Prairie Path users a reason to stop and gather at the park. Developers also say they’ve met with park district officials about coordinating improvements.

An updated park could become more of a destination, James said, “especially considering there’s going to be a lot more pedestrian activity in that area once the underpass and the train station is improved, and now knowing that the village parking deck is open for business.”

Village President Mark Senak wants the development to complement plans for a new commuter hub and to fit with the character of the surrounding business district.

“Our developer has shown a willingness to work cooperatively with the village in accomplishing that,” he said.

The project also was generally well-received by trustees during a recent courtesy review of the concept. Some board members called for affordable and attainable housing within the development and expressed a willingness to use tax incentives to make that happen.

“That doesn’t just include the smallest units within these developments, because it’s not just for singles that we need to find affordable housing, but it’s for families, too,” Trustee Steve Thompson said.

Nix said the development group will refine designs to file a formal zoning application. The building would add 75 to 85 units to the downtown, though the number hasn’t been finalized.

If the project moves forward, the hope is to be under construction this time next year.