5-story apartment building could be coming to former Glen Ellyn shoe store site

  • A preliminary rendering shows a proposed apartment complex that would replace the old Giesche Shoes store at the northwest corner of Main Street and Hillside Avenue in Glen Ellyn.

    A preliminary rendering shows a proposed apartment complex that would replace the old Giesche Shoes store at the northwest corner of Main Street and Hillside Avenue in Glen Ellyn. Courtesy of the village of Glen Ellyn

  • The former Giesche Shoes store has sat empty since 2014 at the southern gateway into the downtown.

    The former Giesche Shoes store has sat empty since 2014 at the southern gateway into the downtown. Courtesy of the village of Glen Ellyn

 
 
Updated 5/8/2018 2:13 PM

A new redevelopment plan for an old shoe store in downtown Glen Ellyn would replace the long-vacant building with an apartment complex that would rise above neighboring restaurants and shops.

Since Giesche Shoes closed four years ago, several planned redevelopments have failed to materialize at the corner property, while a string of other family-owned retailers have shut their doors on the stretch of Main Street.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

New restaurants are moving into some of those storefronts. A proposed mixed-use development, should it be built, could help sustain the dining spots by adding more than 100 upscale apartments and the accompanying foot traffic to the downtown, village planners say.

Larry Debb and John Kosich are the two principals for the project that would demolish the Giesche store to make room for a five-story apartment building with about 5,360 square feet of first-floor commercial space. The footprint would include what is now the village-owned Main Street parking lot.

The developers will seek feedback on that concept from the village's plan commission Thursday night. It's an informal discussion about what could later become a formal request for several zoning exemptions from village code for the proposal.

Reached by phone Monday, Kosich said he would not comment on the project until after the plan commission meeting.

But in a letter to village planners, Kosich and Debb said they're proposing a "condo quality" building with 107 rental units. A two-level parking garage would provide 147 public parking stalls on the first floor, with access off Main Street, Hillside Avenue and Glenwood Avenue. The garage's second floor -- reserved for apartment residents -- would contain 142 stalls.

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Plans also call for a first-floor fitness center open only to building residents. To provide that amenity, developers would have to apply for a zoning code amendment to add "residential accessory uses" as a special use for first-floor downtown spaces typically reserved for retailers or restaurants. If approved, developers would have to obtain the special-use permit.

Building height also could be an issue. Most of the complex would stand roughly 58 feet tall as measured from the average grade of the site, according to a village memo. A corner tower element would measure about 63 feet.

Current village code allows a building height of up 45 feet for Main Street properties. Some village trustees have expressed interest in loosening those height restrictions for downtown structures.

Staci Hulseberg, the village's planning and development director, noted the proposal is "very, very preliminary."

Such a mixed-use development with parking would align with the village's 2001 comprehensive plan and 2009 downtown strategic plan, Hulseberg said. The latter recommends the village add at least 450 new residential units downtown.

Another real estate group walked away from plans to raze the Giesche store and build an apartment complex with space for retailers on the ground floor. The Opus Group proposed the redevelopment in March 2014 but never formally applied for zoning approvals.

Restaurateurs also decided not to move forward with plans to convert the 15,200-square-foot Giesche building into a new dining spot, cafe and event space.

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