Giesche redevelopment in Glen Ellyn would provide public parking in new garage
Developers of a five-story Glen Ellyn apartment complex on the site of the old Giesche Shoe store have secured an agreement to buy the neighboring village-owned Main Street parking lot.
The deal involves several contingencies, but it marks one of the first official steps toward redeveloping the downtown Giesche property, the subject of several proposed projects that have failed to materialize since the family-owned shop closed in 2014.
The agreement comes as developers prepare to meet with the village's plan commission Dec. 6. The latest concept shows a new facade, but the complex would still contain roughly 8,844 square feet of first-floor retail space, 107 upscale apartment units and a two-story parking garage. The building also now has a name: Apex 400.
Under the purchase and sale agreement approved by village trustees this week, GSP Development would convey back the first floor of the new parking structure to the village at the end of the project. The village would maintain and own that first level -- accessed off Main, Hillside and Glenwood Avenue -- as public parking.
"The new parking garage will contain at least as many existing surface stalls that are there right now," Planning and Development Director Staci Springer said. "And it will actually be a better piece of property, or a greatly improved property, when we get it back because it will be constructed of concrete instead of asphalt, and it will be a covered parking garage for the village."
Plans also show vehicular access from Glenwood through to Main, but traffic would not be able to move from the St. Petronille Parish parking lot through to Main as it does now. Pedestrians would be able to use an illuminated walkway beneath the new building from Glenwood to Main.
Building height and traffic issues could loom large over public meetings on the project. A neighbor on Hillside and a St. Petronille parishioner this week raised concerns about traffic flow and congestion. One, who has children who attend the parish school, said about 400 families drop off their kids each day.
For the parking lot to be sold, the village and developers would have to enter into a redevelopment agreement within 180 days of the board's approval of the parking pact. Developers also have to proceed through the village's typical zoning approval process and obtain approval of zoning entitlements.
The village has owned two of the parcels that comprise the Main Street lot since 1973 and purchased the eastern portion in 1982 from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet.
"Due to the potential liability for the village and the increased costs associated with a developer constructing a private building on public land, our village counsel has suggested it would be in the best interest of the village to sell the parking lot to this developer, but only during the time that the project is under construction," Springer told the board.
Developers have purchased the shoe store property from the Giesche family. GSP Development President Larry Debb and John Kosich are the project's two principals.
Before it was sold, the Giesche property had been under contract more than five times, officials say. Other developers over the years have proposed a banquet and restaurant space and another apartment complex with first-floor retail space. But none of them submitted a formal application for zoning approval and did not proceed to the village's plan commission for a public hearing, though there were informal meetings.
If village trustees approve the plans and developers move forward with the project, construction could begin as early as May or June 2019, Village Manager Mark Franz said.