East Dundee stakeholders want more analysis on Water Street project
A controversial plan to close part of Water Street in East Dundee and build a four-story riverfront development is expected to be up for a vote next month.
Some village stakeholders say they believe officials should seek more information and community involvement before making a decision that affects the entire downtown.
Billitteri Enterprises has proposed buying the property at 1 E. Main St., tearing down the existing structure and constructing a 42-foot-tall building. The development would include six to 12 residential units -- for-purchase condominiums or rental apartments -- as well as outdoor terraces and a possible first-floor retail component.
The village board initially scheduled a special meeting Monday to consider an agreement with developers that would offer tax incentives, require public improvements and ultimately push the project forward. That vote has been pushed back, likely to Nov. 19, so trustees can simultaneously decide whether to give developers the right of way for a portion of Water Street between Route 72 and Jackson Street.
The proposed development has been met with opposition by several community members who voiced concerns over how the plans would affect traffic flow, economic activity and the character of the downtown. Dozens of business and property owners also signed a petition this year urging the village to halt negotiations.
Details of the development deal and a recent traffic study were released last week to former Trustee Rob Gorman through a Freedom of Information Act request and were later posted on the village's website. Gorman said he does not believe the village has thoroughly analyzed the potential effects of the project.
"There is no one I have met that thinks this is a great idea," he said in a statement. "It simply needs to be rethought out and not rushed. This is a permanent decision that has no mitigation plan."
Village Administrator Jennifer Johnsen said East Dundee officials have been researching and reviewing the proposal for months -- including during two public meetings -- and strive to be as transparent as possible. She and other village leaders expressed support for the project in its early stages, saying it could help revamp Main Street and serve as a "focal point" for the area.
The proposed development deal would require Billitteri Enterprises to invest at least $3.5 million in the project and complete a handful of public improvements, such as a riverwalk and shoreline stabilization. The group would be responsible for 35 percent of the expenses for those public upgrades, capped at $21,000, and the village would cover the rest.
East Dundee then would hand over roughly 8,600 square feet of Water Street, allowing the new building to extend onto the existing roadway. The village also would agree to waive impact fees and give developers half the extra property tax revenue produced at the site after the building is built.
The Main Street property falls within a tax increment financing district, meaning any property taxes generated above a certain level can go toward redevelopment.
East Dundee trustees also will discuss whether to earmark their portion of the project's TIF dollars for improving the intersection at Route 72 and River Street, where most of the Water Street traffic likely would be rerouted, Johnsen said. That could mean upgrading infrastructure, turn lanes and traffic signals; beautifying the area; and working with local businesses that could be affected by the new development.
"This project will give us the momentum to do some other enhancements along Route 72," she said.
A traffic study conducted by Schaumburg-based KLOA Inc. determined closing Water Street won't have an adverse impact on traffic flow, especially if minor improvements are made to the Route 72 and River Street intersection. The firm suggested extending the eastbound left turn lane on Route 72 by 100 feet and making the green arrow longer -- both of which can be completed quickly and easily, Johnsen said.
But Michael Potirus, manager of the Dundee Dairy Queen, said he worries the project could increase traffic congestion and hurt his Main Street business. Customers often turn onto Water Street after exiting the drive-through lane.
Potirus met last week with village officials, who assured him they are committed to finding a solution for all businesses that could be affected. Dairy Queen's existing drive-through and parking situation isn't ideal, Johnsen said, and the Water Street project could allow the village to "make it even better for them."
Though glad the village wants to work with him, Potirus said he wants a more in-depth analysis completed before the project is approved.
"As it currently stands, there is not a viable solution available to address these concerns," he said.
Project: Traffic a concern for nearby Dairy Queen manager