Proposed downtown Glen Ellyn apartments, designed with pandemic in mind, to get first hearing

A Glen Ellyn advisory panel next month will conduct the first public hearing on a proposal to construct a $30 million apartment building on the site of a former grocery store in downtown.

The developer has been fine-tuning the mixed-use project since revealing plans nearly six months ago. Though the building wouldn't open to residents until spring 2023, some aspects of the design would reflect the pandemic era.

The latest iteration creates dedicated, work-from-home spaces inside apartments. South Bend, Indiana-based Holladay Properties is looking at installing voice-activated elevators to limit touch points. The project also would incorporate small conference rooms and phone booths where residents could take a call or prepare for a presentation.

"It's hard to ignore the global pandemic," Holladay Vice President T. Drew Mitchell said. "It's in front of us everywhere, so some of the things that we're doing inside of the units is sort of a reaction to that."

Holladay is proposing construction of Glenwood Station, a five-story, 86-unit building on the former McChesney & Miller grocery store property. The plan commission will consider the developer's requests for zoning relief during a virtual meeting Nov. 12.

Holladay in August broke ground on a five-story residential and commercial development in downtown Westmont. The firm completed construction two years ago on Burlington Station, a four-story apartment building near the Downers Grove Metra station.

"What we've encountered in our product in suburban Chicago is overwhelming demand," said Mitchell, who's based in the firm's LaGrange office. "We have a waitlist right now at Burlington Station in downtown Downers Grove, and what we're seeing unfortunately for Chicago is people are returning to the suburbs."

In Glen Ellyn, rents would range from about $1,400 to nearly $3,000. Glenwood Station amenities would target young professionals working in the city, empty nesters seeking a lower-maintenance lifestyle and other demographic groups.

Some design tweaks represent an effort to respond to feedback offered during the village's informal review process last spring. New renderings show a modified roofline and more architectural interest around the exterior, Mitchell said.

"We've really embraced a 360-degree architecture, so the idea is that the building's beautiful from any direction you're looking at," he said.

Holladay slightly increased the footprint for ground-floor retail space to about 1,500 square feet. Mitchell pointed to a salon or wine shop as examples of tenants.

A two-level parking garage would contain just more than 100 stalls for building residents. Terraces would provide access to the outdoors for each unit.

"We've pulled the building back from the second story up, and so what that does is it maintains kind of a strong pedestrian feeling and presence on the sidewalk," Mitchell said.

Glen Ellyn trustees have the final say on the zoning requests and could take up their review as early as December.

The village also is formalizing a redevelopment agreement that would call for reimbursing Holladay about $2 million using tax increment financing dollars as an economic incentive over a 10-year period. In a TIF district, as redevelopment boosts property values, the extra tax revenue that otherwise would go to taxing bodies such as schools and parks can be used to pay for improvements to the area.

"The $2 million incentive would be a performance-based agreement," Village Manager Mark Franz said. "As the property taxes go up, they get reimbursed for a portion of those again over the life of the TIF, over 10 years, which is close to the life of the TIF."

The McChesney property has stood vacant since the grocery store closed in October 2014.

If the developer secures village approval, Holladay would look to begin construction in middle to late 2021.

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