Bella Casa Square project would bring apartments, businesses to Elgin's east side
A mix of new commercial space and apartments in a development called Bella Casa Square may take over the long-vacant space that was once planned for a Dominick's on Elgin's east side.
The project involves six total buildings, rising as high as five stories and containing commercial space, 155 apartments and a rec center for residents. The plan comes from a development team that primarily includes members of the family who owns the Butera supermarkets business.
The potential 11-acre site, at 880-900 S. Summit Street, was in the early stages of being developed into a Dominick's before that chain shuttered in 2013. That project never came to life despite the construction of a parking lot and water detention facilities. The land has been dormant since 1998.
The Butera family had its eyes on the property since at least 2017. According to the architectural and engineering team, the initial vision was strictly for commercial development at the site.
But calculations didn't forecast that as a profitable project. That's when the idea of adding apartments came into play.
Elgin Planning and Zoning Board commissioners viewed the plans for a mixed-use project Monday night. In addition to the one and two-bedroom apartments, the plan calls for about 13,000 square feet of ground-floor commercial space, which would share a total of 312 parking spaces with the renters.
The city staff praised the project as a much-needed boost for the city's east side, which has not seen the same growth or commercial activity as the west side in recent years.
"We're really excited about this project," said Senior Planner Damir Latinovic. "It can set a precedent for new, mixed-use and residential multifamily developments."
That alone was enough to push the commission toward a unanimous recommendation to support the project when it moves on to the city council. However, commissioners did have concerns about there being fewer parking spaces than called for in the city code.
Neither Summit nor the adjacent Waverly Drive allows for on-street parking. That means the property itself is the only parking option for people who live there or may shop there. Latinovic said there is enough parking for the residents for sure, and the commercial market will decide on its own if there is enough parking to support their businesses.
"If they believe there is not enough parking for their customers, they are simply not going to open up there," Latinovic said.
Commissioners also suggested the site plan could use more green space for any children who live there. However, the on-site recreation building and the ability to get to Lords Park, which is about one block away, eased much of that concern.
The full city council must approve the project before construction can begin.