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updated: 3/6/2013 9:20 AM

St. Charles mayoral candidates tackle housing market wave of apartments

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  • St. Charles mayor candidates are, clockwise from top from left, John Rabchuk, Ray Rogina, Jake Wyatt and Jotham Stein.

    St. Charles mayor candidates are, clockwise from top from left, John Rabchuk, Ray Rogina, Jake Wyatt and Jotham Stein.


Resentment about living next to apartments has been a major feature of just about every would-be residential development that has come to St. Charles in recent years.

The four candidates for St. Charles mayor recently shared what their approach will be to new apartments in the city.

Ray Rogina said any decision about letting new apartments be built would be based on where the developer wants to build them and what neighbors think about the project.

He cited the recent rejection of the Corporate Reserve project on the far west end of town as an example of when apartments wouldn't be appropriate.

"There were people who said we bought townhouses, in Remington Glen, with the idea that (Corporate Reserve) would be an office park," Rogina said. "All of a sudden, we're making a change here to apartments."

But further east on Main Street, in the downtown, Rogina said he would welcome more apartments.

He said he envisions a development deal that may require the apartment developer to provide trolley service downtown to enhance transportation.

"The answer would be for me, where are they?" Rogina said. "Certainly downtown provides and opportunity for foot traffic."

Jotham Stein agreed apartments in the downtown "could be a very positive thing if planned correctly."

He believes the downtown is the perfect place for mixed-use development that features some combination of residential, commercial and office space.

On the flip side, Stein was one of the more vocal opponents of the plan to bring high-rise apartments a few years ago to the old St. Charles Mall site at Route 38 and Randall Road.

That plan also included large commercial space and parking areas.

However, the city council shot down the plan when neighbors decried the possibility of apartments in one of the last large spaces for commercial development in the city. The land has sat dormant since that vote.

John Rabchuk said the problem city officials face for at least the next 10 years will be an influx of residential projects that are more dense than aldermen have typically approved.

Those projects are coming because that's what the housing market will sustain now that it has become much more difficult to purchase a single-family home, he said.

"That doesn't mean bad things, though," Rabchuk said. "Density is a key issue. We don't want a high-rise in a residential area. Downtown is the place to have that. But we don't have an opportunity to annex any land any more. So if we want growth, it's going to be infill. Rental, by itself, it's got a negative connotation. But it doesn't have to."

Rabchuk pointed to the AMLI apartments, off Route 64 near Kirk Road, as a successful development placed properly in the city.

Jake Wyatt said he supports apartment buildings in the city as long as the right infrastructure and parking are in place to support such a development.

He agreed the economy and the housing market are ushering in a new wave of high demand for apartments. Wyatt said he'd be open to any apartments that coincide with appropriate land use as spelled out by the city's new comprehensive plan.

For now, the city's languishing First Street development is one place Wyatt said apartments are not only appropriate but needed.

"Putting 100 apartments down on First Street, that would bring business down there," Wyatt said.

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