Height may be sticking point in Glen Ellyn redevelopment plans

Developer wants 5-story building in downtown Glen Ellyn

  • The former Giesche Shoes property in downtown Glen Ellyn is where a developer has proposed a five-story mixed-use development that would contain retail and residential units.

    The former Giesche Shoes property in downtown Glen Ellyn is where a developer has proposed a five-story mixed-use development that would contain retail and residential units. Daily Herald File Photo

Posted5/19/2015 5:30 AM

Proposed revisions to redevelopment plans for the former Giesche Shoes property received mixed reviews Monday night in Glen Ellyn.

The Opus Group has proposed a five-story mixed-use building at the northwest corner of Main Street and Hillside Avenue in the village's downtown, which is taller than the city's current zoning allows.


The development, which would be constructed on the now-vacant Giesche property and the adjacent village-owned Main Street parking lot, would have 9,040 square feet of retail space on the ground floor and 110 upper floor apartments containing as many as three bedrooms. The village would provide the parking lot to the developer for free.

Trustee Mark Senak said the proposed mixed-use development fits with the 2001 village comprehensive plan and 2009 downtown strategic plan, but the proposed five-story height doesn't.

"I think it's an outstanding design," Senak said. "But I am concerned about its location in the spot that it's proposed."

Chris Hurst, the project architect, said a four-story building was considered, but the financials wouldn't have worked out.

"We had to look at five stories to make the development viable," he said.

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As proposed, Opus would seek zoning variations to allow a building height of 61 feet, though 45 feet is currently permitted. The tallest point of the building is a clock tower that would be at the corner of Main and Hillside.

Ryan Soukup of Soukup's Hardware, across the street from the proposed development, said it would "dwarf" buildings on his side of the street that are two and three stories. And Soukup also wanted parking to be more visible -- not hidden behind the building.

A three-level village-owned parking structure is proposed next to the Opus building on parking lots owned by the village and St. Petronille Parish. The village and church have proposed a 99-year no-cost lease that would allow the village to construct and operate the garage on church property.

In total, there would be 557 parking spaces on site -- an increase of 195 spaces from what is there now.

Parents from St. Petronille expressed concerns with the proposed parking garage and have begun circulating a petition against it.


One of the parents, Eileen Bender, said adding the parking structure would add more traffic congestion where parents are picking up and dropping off their children.

"It would put more pressure on an already congested school zone," she said.

The Rev. James Dougherty, pastor of St. Petronille, called the development a "win-win-win" for the church, the village and the developer, since it would draw businesses and new residents to the community and provide parking. He said safety is of great concern, but that church and diocese officials have been working on that and other issues for more than a year.

Money generated by the village's downtown tax increment financing district -- where property taxes to local governments are limited and taxes gained above that limit go back into the development -- is projected to pay for all but $1 million of the village's $4.5 million share of the parking garage cost, according to a village financial analysis.

Officials say the project could generate $1 million in retail sales over the next 20 years.

The village board reviewed initial development plans last October, after which Opus presented at meetings of the village plan and architectural review commissions. Opus is now planning to submit formal plans that would be subject to review and approval by the village board.

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