St. Charles officials locked in two major steps for the future of business in the city Monday night: Aldermen gave final approval to the design of the next building in the First Street development, and city staff members unveiled a new website geared toward bringing new business to town.
The unanimous vote on the First Street project means construction will begin next spring on the lot closest to Main Street. It will feature a five-story building with retail on the first floor, office space on the second floor and a total of 14 condos on the upper floors. Last year, the First Street development team pitched a five-story, 108-room hotel for the site. But they backed away from the proposal when the owners of the Hotel Baker decried the new competitor's proximity to their historic building.
The new website, thinkstcharles.com, is designed to be one-stop shopping for any business looking to enter the St. Charles market. Matthew O'Rourke, the city's economic development division manager, said the site came together based on interviews with developers and business owners about what they need to know when deciding where to locate their operations.
"What we found is they all do it, that first round, through websites," O'Rourke said. "They want to find it in one or two clicks. And you're probably competing with five to 10 communities, but they don't even call anyone. So it's important to have something out there that's specific, that gets to the point, and that's available within one or two clicks."
The website contains links to demographic information, such as median income, properties available for development and videos featuring existing business owners talking about what it's like to operate in St. Charles -- including quality of life, safety, the many local festivals and the quality of facilities for larger conventions.
The website is now live. Mayor Ray Rogina said he test-posted one of the videos of local business owners talking about the city on his Facebook page last weekend.
"It spread like just like that," Rogina said, snapping his fingers.