Will city consider townhouses on Charlestowne Mall site?

Revitalizing the Charlestowne Mall will soon transform into a question St. Charles residents and officials are all too familiar with: How much prime commercial property should be consumed by housing?

Representatives of the San Francisco-based owners of the mall, now called The Quad, met with city officials a few days ago. Their initial plan to redevelop the property as a traditional enclosed mall isn't working, the owners said.

"The current configuration of the center does not lend itself to the contemporary concepts that both retailers and shoppers desire in today's market," reads a letter from Daniel Krausz, chief legal counsel with The Krausz Companies, which purchased the mall two years ago.

"To be successful today, a new development must incorporate retail, dining, entertainment and residential uses," Krausz wrote.

It's the word "residential" that St. Charles officials will likely key in on. Both aldermen and city residents have shunned every attempt to place high-volume residential development at any of the major commercial sites in the city.

Residents used strong language in recent public forums to convey their opposition to residential plans for another parcel, the Old St. Charles Mall site on the west side of town. They've consistently said no more than 20 percent of any mixed-use development should be residential, and high-quality residential at that.

Krausz did not immediately respond to an interview request Tuesday. But Mayor Ray Rogina, who was at the meeting, said the rough concepts he viewed called for luxury townhouses. Some of the units may have age restrictions. And some of the residential units will likely be rental property, Rogina said.

"They want to make it commensurate with what is across the street," Rogina said. "It would be comparable to what the surrounding neighborhood already has, nothing lower-quality than that."

The number of residential units, or the percentage mix, is still unknown. Rogina said the emphasis must be on commercial development.

"They would not go ahead with anything, plan anything, until they define what the retail element is," Rogina said. "Then they are going to blend that with residential."

Rogina said he left the meeting feeling sure Krausz is "committed to quite a bit of nonresidential" use of the mall property.

He pointed to the scheduled spring 2017 opening of Cooper's Hawk Winery on one of the mall outlots as evidence of that commitment. The owners are also in the final stages of bringing a coffee chain to the property. The letter from Krausz says the Cooper's Hawk contract has fueled new interest from other food and entertainment uses.

Carson Pirie Scott, Von Maur and the Classic Cinemas theater are all committed to the reboot of the mall. Carson's is adding furniture sales to the location. The theater is remodeling with larger, "state-of-the-art" seats.

Rogina has been more receptive to residential development on the city's commercial sites than some of the other elected officials. He said the change of plan is a positive because it means the push to make the Charlestowne Mall property thrive isn't dead. And residents and local business owners are counting on Krausz to make that happen, Rogina said.

"What's happening with Charlestowne is one of the top three questions I get asked all the time," Rogina said. "And that's good because that means people want success out there. I have a good relationship with the owners, and I feel good about this change."

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.