With a company proposing a mix of apartments and retail space for the old village hall site in downtown Lisle, trustees are trying to decide what they want to see and whether they're willing to offer incentives to make it happen.
Lisle has approved a letter of intent with Naperville-based Marquette Companies for the sale and development of the village-owned property at Main Street and Burlington Avenue. The location has been vacant since the former village hall was razed in 2003.
Marquette wants to acquire the site and an adjacent parking lot to construct two multistory buildings with commercial space on the first floor and apartments above.
Because Lisle still owns the land, it gets a say on what plans Marquette will submit to the village's planning and zoning commission.
Mayor Joe Broda said Marquette has made several revisions to the plans to address concerns raised by the board. As a result, he said there aren't any major sticking points.
"I think we are well on our way to moving this project forward," Broda said. "Overall, the consensus of the board is we like the new revision of the product they are presenting."
Marquette, for example, initially planned to have more than 10,000 square feet of commercial space at street level along both Main and Burlington. The company has agreed to increase that to about 15,000 square feet.
In addition, two commercial tenants will have access to a public plaza planned for the corner of Main and Burlington. Originally, only one would have had that access.
"Everybody was very pleased with the redesign, because now two establishments could benefit from that outdoor plaza," Broda said.
Community and Economic Development Director Tony Budzikowski said the two buildings would be separated by Spencer Avenue, so that short stretch of the road would need to be vacated. Marquette has agreed to put a pedestrian walkway in that right of way.
"You go up a few stairs, walk across the plaza, go down a few stairs and then you are back on Spencer," Budzikowski said.
One aspect of the project that apparently doesn't concern trustees is density. The two buildings would offer a total of 201 apartments, according to the plans.
Broda said he's comfortable with having that many new apartments downtown.
"We have been hearing for so long that we need density downtown," said Broda, adding that more downtown residents will help make area businesses more successful.
There also aren't any concerns about height. The building along Main would have three floors. The second building along Burlington would step up to a fourth floor toward the rear.
"It's going to be taller than everything else in the downtown area," Broda said.
Still, he said, other tall buildings may be proposed in the future for locations north of the site.
When asked about possible incentives, Broda said there has been talk of reducing the price Marquette would pay for the land. Right now, the letter of intent calls for the village to get $1 million for the site.
But there aren't any plans to create a tax increment financing district for the project, Budzikowski said.
In a TIF district, taxes resulting from yearly increases in property assessments are banked in a special fund the village can use to improve the area. But an attempt to create a TIF in downtown Lisle was rejected about a decade ago.
"Since the village does not have a TIF district in the downtown and those incentives aren't available, we're looking at another way of providing an incentive for a developer to build," Budzikowski said. "One of those is the price of land. We can control that."
Once trustees are done providing input, the project will be reviewed by the planning and zoning commission. It then will come back to the village board for final approval.
If all goes well, officials said, construction could begin in the middle of next year.