Downtown redevelopment in Fox River Grove stalled, but village exploring more options

The Village of Fox River Grove has hired a marketing firm to help redevelop these building on U.S. Route 14 between Lincoln Avenue and Illinois Street in Fox River Grove.

The good news, Fox River Grove trustees relayed Tuesday evening, is that the the village could be getting a new sushi restaurant to replace the former Sticks Pub & Grub along Route 14.

Unfortunately, other properties along Route 14 remain in limbo, including a section of village-owned property secured via eminent domain.

After approving a memorandum of understanding with American Construction Services earlier this year to bring a mixed-used development to Route 14 between Lincoln Avenue and Illinois Street, the village is now partnering with ATMK and consultant Anne Dempsey to try to solicit other developers for the stretch, Village Administrator Derek Soderholm said.

The Village Board approved a contract with ATMK at its meeting Tuesday night.

The agreement does not preclude the village from moving forward with American Construction Services, and the firm is still interested in the site, Soderholm said. However, any timeline for a project with them, or other developers, is now pushed later than originally planned. The village had hoped for public meetings on a potential agreement this fall.

Attempts to reach American Construction Services were unsuccessful as of Tuesday evening.

The Village of Fox River Grove has hired a marketing firm to help redevelop these building on U.S. Route 14 between Lincoln Avenue and Illinois Street in Fox River Grove.

“This is a pretty good arrangement,” Soderholm said of the new agreement. “Appears to be a good deal, for a lesser amount than we were anticipating.”

Trustee Melissa Schladt said she came away impressed with Dempsey following a 45-minute meeting with her and other trustees.

“Obviously, we are still holding out for American Construction Services,” Schladt said, “but with delays, we want to keep as many shots on goal as possible. Dempsey seemed very excited to work with us and create a win-win vision.”

While village trustees decried a poor economic environment for marketing the site, the village is still looking for a multi-family, mixed-use plan, Soderholm said, adding that Dempsey was interested in marketing the site only if the multi-family concept was intact.

“I’m not surprised we haven’t had takers yet,” Schladt said. “This is a very odd climate, [post-COVID-19].”

The nine-month agreement includes a $60,000 consulting fee, contingent on finding a developer, of which the village would have to pay only $20,000 if they enter into a development agreement with the companies that had originally shown interest.

Members of the Fox River Grove board of trustees and staff--from left to right, Melissa Schladt, chairman Marc McLaughlin and Village Clerk Shelley Caesar--discussed the future of "Block B" downtown during their meeting on Tuesday night, Oct. 4, 2022.

That includes Grove Residences LLC, which was developing a residential complex across Route 14, by the fire station on Algonquin Road. It built a five-story concrete foundation but has not touched the property since earlier this winter.

A lawsuit filed by one of the contractors, Spancrete of Illinois, against Grove Residences remains pending in McHenry County.

At the conclusion of Tuesday’s meeting, Soderholm and the trustees went into closed session to discuss possible options for the unfinished site; Village President Marc McLaughlin briefly raised concerns that the village would have to prepare for a contingency plan if Grove Residences walked away from the site.

“We can’t not do anything,” McLaughlin said. “We’re waiting and waiting, and there’s just concrete walls there.”

Even with the lawsuit, Grove Residences owns the property, Soderholm said, and several trustees indicated one possible option could be to intercede with the property as they did with the property obtained through eminent domain.

Longtime Fox River Grove resident Tony Suchy, who has raised concerns about the site on Algonquin Road in the past, said he felt it was unfair businesses had been kicked out of the village-owned property. They could have potentially remained operating through now, he said.

“It looks like a war zone,” Suchy said of the combined empty lots along Route 14 and concrete shell on Algonquin Road. “The village is buying itself time, but it’s not working.”