A plan to turn the half-built Riverside Plaza development in downtown Algonquin from condos to apartments was recommended for approval by the planning and zoning commission, but with conditions that pave the way for a future condo conversion, officials said.
Developer John Breugelmans wants to change his plans for the building on the northeast corner of Routes 31 and 62 from 54 condominiums, as originally planned, to 69 apartments, which he says is the only way he can get the $8.5 million or so in financing he needs to finish the project. Breugelmans has an agreement to lease 43 parking spots from Port Edward Restaurant next door, in addition to 110 spots in the building's garage, to account for the increased number of units, Algonquin Community Development Director Farnum said.
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Commission Chairman Jim Patrician said it was not an easy decision. "It was my impression that most folks would like to see some progress and think that an empty building doesn't much good for the downtown district," he said.
The commission also recommended specifications regarding the interior of the building -- including cabinets, countertops, appliances and fixtures -- as well as approval by the village board of the building's operations and leasing rules, Farnum said.
"(The conditions) are intended to assure that the developer provides luxury apartments, which is what he is proposing to build, rather than just your standard, garden-variety apartment," he said.
Village staffers had proposed reducing the number of rental units from 69 to 60, which would have further facilitated a condo conversion, but the commission decided to go with Breugelmans' request, Patrician said. "A couple of commissioners -- including myself -- would have preferred a number of units closer to 54 than 69, but I think what won the day was the idea of progress for the downtown area," he said.
Breugelmans said his plan is a solid one. "We need 69 units on order to justify the expense," he said, declining to say whether he's found financing. "I think it's good for the village, and good for the project."
The commission also recommended requiring Breugelmans to sell the properly as condo units only, and not as an apartment building, Patrician said.
The Algonquin committee of the whole will discuss the rental plan on Aug. 28, Farnum said. In May, a majority of trustees said they would not approve of a plan that increases the original number of units.
"(The village board) should listen to the recommendations of the planning and zoning commission. That's the whole purpose of it," Breugelmans said.