The four-year struggle to begin construction on Riverside Plaza in downtown Algonquin is finally seeing some light. Officials announced that the developer, John Breugelmans, secured $11 million last week to develop the building into 63 luxury apartments, 9,600 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and to add parking.
But Algonquin officials aren't resting easy just yet.
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"There's still a lot of work to be done -- I mean the entire interior build out is no small task, but we celebrate every step that gets completed along the way," Community Development Director Russ Farnum said. "We're excited to proceed to the next one."
The building, at the corner of Route 31 and Route 62 in the heart of downtown Algonquin, remained unfinished since 2009 and became an eyesore after the original developer defaulted on his loans and terminated its construction.
Breugelmans bought the building in spring 2011 and completed its exterior in 2012. He could not be reached for comment.
Breugelmans' original deadline to secure financing and start work on the interior was mid-October, Farnum said. If he missed that deadline, he would have lost the ability to rent and build the 63 apartments, which will have a minimum size of 920 square feet.
As a result, the project would have reverted back to the original planned unit development of 54 condominiums, which would have put Breugelmans in a bad position, Farnum said.
"The condo market is still very soft," Farnum said. "Although it seems to have signs of recovery, there's no financing available to build condos because the market's soft."
The village board gave Breugelmans a three-month extension last week, which means he has until Jan. 16 to start construction.
The apartments will revert to condos in five years and the building should be occupied by next summer.
Officials herald the building as a key component to downtown Algonquin's rebirth, as it will increase the number of people living, eating and shopping there.
The new residents are expected to attract new retail and restaurant options; the development itself will add more than $10 million of property value to downtown Algonquin, officials said.
Moreover, the village approved a planning study earlier this year that singles out development opportunities that will present itself once the Route 31 Western Bypass is completed next year. The bypass will allow Main Street, from Huntington Drive north to Greenwood Court, to be turned into a smaller road to offer a pedestrian-friendly and commercial area.
"As we start to implement the downtown planning study, we are again on our way to bringing a new vitality to the heart and soul of Algonquin," Village President John Schmitt said in a statement.