Does it matter if Riverside Plaza in Algonquin ends up being a rental development rather than a condo building as originally planned?
Members of the Algonquin downtown planning study steering committee, which includes residents and business owners, hold a variety of opinions on the matter, which Algonquin trustees debated Tuesday night.
Developer John Breugelmans, principal of Riverside Plaza LCC of North Barrington, told trustees that he just can't get the $8.5 million in financing he needs to finish the condo project, but he'd be able to get financing for an apartment project.
What matters is finishing the project, said Sherry Brewer, owner of the Victorian Rose Garden Bed and Breakfast in downtown Algonquin. "As long as we can get it occupied, apartments would be fine with me. Then it will be finished inside and out, and maybe some restaurants and shops will move into the lowers level. That would be great," she said.
Richard Worzala, president of Algonquin State Bank, said it's indeed much more difficult for condo projects to get financing right now. "Would you rather just see the place occupied? What's the alternative?" he said.
Glenn Schilke, a retired contractor, said he understands some people's hesitation about having renters rather than condo owners for neighbors. "You want people to come in there with money, but a lot of people are getting out of ownerships, rent for a couple of years, and then get back into market."
Gabriele Reego of Doerner Jewelers pointed out that getting a home mortgage can be very difficult. One alternative is to turn Riverside Plaza into apartments first, then convert it into condos later.
"I think right now to get them done, with people in there, is what we need. I think higher-end, upscale apartments would be great."
The idea was floated Tuesday night, but trustees questioned whether Breugelmans' plan to change the layout from 54 condo units to 69 apartments, including 36 one-bedroom units, will make that difficult.
Edward Mudra said he doesn't believe apartments are the way to go.
"I don't agree with it becoming apartments, but then again, I don't agree with it being there to begin with," said Mudra, also a member of the Algonquin Historic Commission. "That was actually my fear that they were going to allow them to do apartments."
The village should have pushed forward with a demolition lawsuit it had filed against former owner Harris Bank before Breugelmans bought the property in March 2011, Mudra said. "It should have been ripped down and turned into a park."
At the meeting on Tuesday, Breugelmans told the board he initially thought he had secured funding through a company called Kennedy Funding, but it later backed out. A representative of the New Jersey-based company said the appraiser estimated the value of Riverside Plaza at less than Breugelmans' estimation. "We made him a loan offer, just not what he wanted," he said.
Before any formal changes are made to the plan, Breugelmans will have get approval first from the planning and zoning commission and then from the village board.