A Wheaton-based developer wants to knock down the McChesney & Miller grocery store -- in business in downtown Glen Ellyn since 1862 -- and construct a 185-unit apartment complex and village-owned three-story public parking deck.
Next Generation Development, currently putting together projects in Aurora and North Aurora, has been talking with Glen Ellyn for almost a year about plans it believes would help the village with its Downtown Strategic Plan.
That plan, which trustees adopted in 2009, called for encouraging the development of at least 400 residential units and 600 additional parking spaces in decks built north and south of the Union Pacific railroad tracks.
This particular proposal would require closing Crescent Boulevard and its surface parking between Prospect Avenue and Glenwood Avenue. The development would be built across from the village's commuter parking lot, south of the intersection of Crescent and Glenwood.
The three-story parking garage, which would be owned by the village, would have two levels underground and one at grade level with 502 parking spots. Two hundred of those spots would be leased back by Next Generation for residential use, and the rest would be a combination of commuter and merchant parking.
On top of the parking structure, the developer would build a five-story apartment complex with 185 "high-end" units.
In recent weeks, Next Development officials have held "casual one-on-one" conceptual meetings with village trustees, and also have met with village staff and Village President Alex Demos.
At this point, no formal plans have been submitted.
"The village is comfortable and happy with the concept of the project, and happy with us from a developer standpoint," Next Generation CEO Jim Hughes, Jr. said. "I think, at this point, the struggle is getting their arms around the financial package we are looking for to make things work."
Bill Behrmann, owner of McChesney & Miller, was not available for comment. Hughes said an agreement has been reached with the grocer, subject to village approval.
On its website, McChesney & Miller touts itself as "a family owned grocery store, the oldest retail store in DuPage County." It opened in 1862 as a dry goods store on the west side of Main Street operated by Union Army Lt. Joseph R. McChesney.
If village officials green light the development, it's not certain if the grocer would try to relocate elsewhere in Glen Ellyn. Hughes said the plan calls for 3,700 square feet of retail space and he's made overtures to Behrmann to be included.
"We'd love to have them as a client there," Hughes said.
Village Manager Mark Franz said the project is in its "preliminary stage," but added it's the type of project the village sought when it created its first tax increment financing district in 2012.
Created to promote downtown development and improvements, in a TIF district property tax payments to local governments are frozen for up to 23 years. New taxes generated by increasing property values are reinvested within the TIF district.
The site of Next Generation's proposal falls within Glen Ellyn's TIF. Next Generation also is seeking a financial contribution from the village to help finance the project.
"It would be coming from the TIF district and involve the village paying for additional parking," Franz said. "That has to be evaluated and negotiated with the developer."
Next Generation is also in the process of developing a 460-unit transit-oriented development near the Route 59 commuter train station in Aurora and a 146-unit apartment development in North Aurora.
Hughes said if an agreement is reached in Glen Ellyn, the approval process would take at least five to eight months, a timeline that would involve addressing environmental questions and "cutting an architect loose."
"I would visualize this to be a 2015 start," Hughes said. "This is a complex and convoluted deal. The village has been very forthright. We'd like to continue that dialogue."