St. Charles mayor highlights development, new businesses in state of the city address

St. Charles Mayor Lora Vitek highlighted new development, businesses and infrastructure accomplishments over the past year, and looked ahead to future growth during the state of the city address Thursday at the Royal Fox Country Club.

About 100 people were in attendance, including city council members, city officials, the police and fire chiefs and many residents and local business owners.

The newly constructed First Street Plaza, now open to pedestrians, was one of the major accomplishments Vitek highlighted in her address. She also touted more than 1,000 residential units under construction or in planning, the expansive street rehabilitation program and the bicycle and pedestrian plan.

Roughly 100 people attended the state of the city event hosted by St. Charles Mayor Lora Vitek, where she highlighted new development, businesses and infrastructure accomplishments over the past year, and looked ahead to future growth on Thursday at the Royal Fox Country Club. David Petesch/Shaw Media

Other achievements included securing a development agreement to bring a Whole Foods Market into the former Blue Goose site, which is expected to be operational by next spring, and the development of the Pheasant Run Industrial Park, currently being constructed on the former golf course site.

Vitek reported the demolition of the Pheasant Run resort is expected to commence soon, as cranes currently are on site.

Vitek also touched on the Dam Task Force, a joint initiative with the park district, which is tasked with exploring the various impacts that removing the dam would have on the city in order to help city council members make a well-informed decision. The task force has met twice so far and will meet next on June 6.

The city also is working on improving the online experience for residents, with a new website under development and expected to launch this year.

Vitek highlighted nearly 20 new businesses that have opened in the past year, as well as several that are expected to open soon, including Chick-fil-A, McGrath Kia and a Thorntons gas station.

Another major endeavor of the city is the redevelopment of the Charlestowne Mall, which Vitek said likely will become a mix of residential and commercial real estate. She said redevelopment of the site poses major challenges, as it is not city-owned and some of the current retailers want to stay open, but the city is anticipating owners will submit concept plans for review this summer.

After the mayor’s presentation, she opened the floor to questions. Vitek, City Administrator Heather McGuire, Police Chief James Keegan and Economic Development Director Derek Conley fielded the majority of the questions.

Multiple people raised questions and concerns about traffic and pedestrian safety on Main Street downtown and on Route 31, downtown parking and the future of the Charlestowne Mall and former police department sites.

Officials assured those in attendance that the city and police department are working to address pedestrian safety concerns downtown, money has been budgeted to implement additional wayfinding signage for downtown parking, and detailed the challenges associated with the redevelopment of the former police station and Charlestowne Mall.

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