St. Charles City Council approves feasibility study for former police station site

St. Charles has restarted the redevelopment process for the former police station site downtown by hiring consultants to conduct a feasibility study for the city-owned riverfront property at 10 State Ave.

City council members approved an agreement with Chicago-based architecture firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz to conduct the study for a cost of $118,680 in an unanimous vote as part of the consent agenda at their May 20 meeting.

The scope of the study includes the east bank of the Fox River, the former police station site and adjacent open spaces and parking lots, including the parking lot just north of the St. Charles Municipal Center.

Site map for the Downtown Riverfront Property Feasibility Study to be conducted in St. Charles this summer. Courtesy of city of St. Charles

The former police station has been vacant since September 2019, when the department’s new $24.6 million police station opened at 1515 W. Main St.

City officials heard several redevelopment proposals in 2022 but chose not to move forward with any of them. Instead, the city is starting fresh by conducting a Downtown Riverfront Property Feasibility Study on the site this summer.

Redevelopment proposals reviewed by the city in 2022 included concept plans for hotels and apartment complexes as tall as seven stories, riverwalks and outdoor plazas, shopping centers and restaurants, with estimated development costs ranging from $60 million to $150 million.

Due to concerns from residents and council members about the large scopes of the projects, the height of the proposed buildings and development costs, the proposals were rejected and the city decided to first conduct a feasibility study on the site.

To obtain a more detailed analysis of the site, the city solicited proposals for the study in September 2023. In November 2023, it received only one proposal, from SCB, to conduct the study.

Economic Development Director Derek Conley detailed SCB’s proposal to council members during a Government Operations Committee meeting on May 6.

Conley said the intent of the feasibility study is to inform the city on what type of development would best fit the site. During the study, SCB will collect data on the surrounding area and analyze previous development proposals to identify the costs associated with readying the site for development.

Per the agreement, SCB will conduct a technical analysis of the site and assess the existing conditions through data collection, testing and site visits. The study will provide environmental, geotechnical, floodplain, traffic, parking and utility analyses, and identify estimated demolition costs.

The study is expected to be conducted this summer and take four to five months to complete. According to the contract, the city expects the study to be completed by September.

Notable projects SCB has worked on in Illinois include Aurora’s downtown redevelopment plan and downtown redevelopments in Hillside and Moline.

“We are excited to work with the city and the community to prepare a strategic redevelopment plan for the former police station property,” SCB Director of Planning Christine Carlyle said in a letter to the city. “As a team, we understand the challenges of a complicated riverfront site such as the former police station site along the Fox River. Our riverfront plans recognize the importance of open space, bike trails and integrating the historic downtown fabric while knitting together the utility, roadway and parking infrastructure efficiently to support the desired development and help mitigate flooding.”

SCB is expected to organize a kickoff meeting with the city to review and finalize the project plans, including a timeline with milestones, delivery dates, and a proposed schedule of meetings and workshops with city officials and residents.

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