Local News

Woodstock primes downtown Pioneer Center site for potential redevelopment after housing plans fell through

Deputy mayor says he wants to see mixed-use in location

The former Pioneer Center site at 101 S. Jefferson St. in Woodstock could become the target of a redevelopment proposal with a commercial use on the ground level and housing or another element across several other stories, Deputy Mayor Mike Turner said.

“This, in the downtown area, in my opinion, is the second-most important parcel that we have,” Turner said. The first probably is Die Cast, but Pioneer is very close behind it. It’s a prominent piece. It’s sizable.”

The former Die Cast site is also set to see a housing proposal, and now a sitting Woodstock City Council member, Jim Prindiville, is a part of an investment team called Throop Street LLC that is in the process of buying the Pioneer Center location.

Prindiville recused himself from two votes Tuesday night, one that repealed a prior vote allowing a previous developer to track project expenses for potential reimbursement through the Woodstock tax increment financing district and another that approved the Throop Street outfit to now record those same types of costs for potential payback.

Tax increment financing districts give local governments the ability to direct certain property taxes generated within a district’s boundaries toward improvements within the area aimed at fostering economic progress and job creation.

In November 2018, the city tried to induce Billitteri Enterprises to proceed with a housing development on the Pioneer Center site, but that developer has since informed the city it is dropping the effort, according to city documents.

Now, after city council’s Tuesday meeting, the Throop Street group Prindiville is a part of can begin documenting costs related to overhauling the property. Prindiville’s term on the council ends next month, and he is not running for another in the April election.

“The city of Woodstock has several goals that we would like them to consider when designing the project. These are documented in the Downtown Development Plan, and include achieving the highest possible density in downtown residential developments,” city staff said in a memo to elected leaders.

Reached by phone Wednesday, Prindiville did not disclose any of the possible plans for the site, and no formal development applications have been submitted to the city.

But Turner, in both public comments and an interview, said he had spoken with Prindiville about the possibilities for the sight and thinks Prindiville’s group will meet the expectations of the deputy mayor for a mixed-use building with a commercial use on the ground floor.

“My vision for that site and others is that it is mixed-use and that we bring residents along with commercial opportunities, shops and restaurants that enhance the downtown,” Turner said. “I look to the future in the post COVID-19 era, and I want to be aggressive in seeking out developers and opportunities to create growth in downtown Woodstock and throughout Woodstock.”

The existing building likely will be torn down, Turner said, although the new developer at this point is not beholden to agreeing to that.

The building has been for sale for several years, and all the social services previously housed in the Pioneer Center building have already relocated to other space, including some to city-owned property at 13707 W. Jackson St.