Why Wheeling is saying no to $30 million downtown development
Wheeling officials panned a proposal Monday to build a $30 million development with townhouses, apartments and retail space along Dundee Road.
The village board decided unanimously against moving forward with the latest version of Dundee Commons -- an evolving development at the intersection of Dundee Road and Northgate Crossing that's languished in the approval process for more than two years. The project was previously called Dunshire and led by a different real estate developer.
"I'm losing confidence in your project, to be quite frank," Trustee Mary Krueger said. "It's changed so much that I'm not confident you know what you want to put there because it's changed so much."
Cedar Street Companies, the latest developer to lead the project, proposed 43 townhouses, 38 apartments and nearly 12,000 square feet of retail space. It would then build a near-mirror image on 4.5 acres to the west, but that land hasn't been purchased.
And that's been a lingering concern for village trustees. Though the village board gave preliminary approval to the project in May, it had asked for a full development, as well as less density, more parking spaces and wider streets. But the developers have yet to buy all three properties there, and some trustees considered recent design changes to the site as only "cosmetic."
"It's still half a sandwich in my eyes," Trustee Ken Brady said.
Part of their concern is that the developer has asked for public resources to complete the project, including up to $5 million in tax increment financing funds from property taxes set aside for development rather than local governments, conveyance of an acre of village-owned land at the site, and help purchasing land to the west. If public funds are used but the developer doesn't finish the second phase of the project, it would be a waste of taxpayer money, some trustees said.
However, some trustees said they liked the concept if the entire project were to be built at the same time.
"In the future if it's a full project, I could support it," Trustee Ray Lang said.
It's unclear whether the development team will bring back another proposal for the property. What does seem clear, however, is that the village has high hopes for the property in its burgeoning downtown.
To the south, the $110 million Wheeling Town Center with 300 apartments, a movie theater and restaurants is under construction. To the east, the village recently approved plans for the $64 million Uptown 500 project with 262 apartments and commercial space.
"The village board is looking for an extraordinary project that's going to merit them conveying property to the developer and providing significant incentives," Economic Development Director John Melaniphy said.