McHenry apartments, parking rejected by City Council; Mayor Jett ‘very disappointed’

Jett said he was concerned the move ‘ruins our reputation’ with developers; dining tax was also planned

Boone Creek, as seen from the Green Street Parking lot on Thursday, June 13, 2024. The former city hall is to the right.

With four out of the seven McHenry City Council members saying Monday that they could not support a six-story housing and parking development for downtown Monday, the proposal is now dead.

“I don’t know what to say at this point,” Mayor Wayne Jett said after a straw poll that indicated there was not enough support to move forward, but did say he “was very disappointed in council members here.”

Council members Andy Glab, 2nd Ward; Frank McClatchey, 3rd Ward; Chris Bassi, 4th Ward; and Michael Koch, 6th Ward, indicated in the non-binding vote that they would not support moving forward with the proposal.

McHenry city staff and representatives from Shodeen Group LLC have been working on a proposal for 1111 N. Green Street for four years, Jett said.

“Four years and we come to this,” he said. “Unbelievable.”

Shodeen proposed $30 million project that would bring 88 studio, 1- and 2-bedroom apartments to the site, as well as 157 shared parking spots and a commercial space in a six-story development. The developer also asked the city for $6 million in Tax Increment Financing and a $2 million grant to make the development feasible for them.

City Administrator Suzanne Ostrovsky had proposed a 1% dining and alcohol tax to fund that $2 million grant, while allowing the city to own the parking structure once the project was finished. The tax would have brought in an estimated $880,000 a year to the city and, after debt service for the parking garage, leave the city with $720,000 in revenue for other street and infrastructure projects.

Following the meeting, Jett said he was concerned the denial would hurt the likelihood of other developers coming to McHenry, and negatively affect the city’s relationship with Shodeen.

For the past year, the city and Shodeen have operated under a standstill agreement, where the city agreed not to market two pieces of land to other developers while the two worked towards an acceptable plan.

“It ruins our reputation” with developers, Jett said of the council’s decision. “We have been working with this developer for years.”

At the outset of the nearly three-hour discussion, Ostrovsky said she wanted to clarify that the proposal was solely for the 1111 N. Green St. site, and not any other open land in McHenry. The two other properties the city and Shodeen have been working towards include 2¼ acres across Boone Creek and the former wastewater treatment plant on the Fox River, just a few blocks to the east.

This is not the first time the McHenry City Council has shot down a housing proposal for the area. In late 2021, the council turned down a proposal for 218 luxury apartments at the former wastewater treatment plant site.

Of those who said they would not support the Green Street development, the size of the development was cited as the largest concern.

Glab said he could perhaps support four stories – three of housing and one for parking – but that he would never support apartments for the site. At the first look at the proposal in February, Glab said he’d only support condominium units.

Bassi argued the six-story building and parking would actually reduce the amount of parking now available downtown.

For McHenry to build a 140-space parking garage would cost the city $5.2 million, Ostrovsky said in her report to the council. The shared parking structure would give the city 157 spaces at the cost of $2 million. The building residents would need to purchase overnight parking passes, but parking would not be guaranteed and would be open for anyone during daytime hours.

In his frustration with the night’s outcome, Jett asked residents to vote in the spring 2025 elections.

“People need to get out and vote to move this city in the right direction,” Jett said in a message to the Northwest Herald following the meeting. “Another concern is our reputation and relationship with developers as they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and sign agreements along the way and nearly four years later get denied to do any development.”

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