St. Charles officials weigh mixed-use plans for largely vacant Charlestowne Mall
St. Charles aldermen are weighing whether razing the majority of the largely vacant Charlestowne Mall to make way for 560 apartments and townhouses, a hotel and new restaurants and retail along East Main Street is the best plan for the site.
Plans also include a food truck park, a public plaza with seating and an amphitheater, a partially enclosed gazebo and an ice cream stand. Aldermen reviewed the latest plans for the 81-acre property at the city council's Planning and Development Committee meeting Monday.
Partners S.R. Jacobson Development Corporation and Lormax Stern Development Company LLC. have entered into a purchase agreement for the former Charlestowne Mall property with current owners The Krausz Companies, Inc. In December 2017, Krausz closed the interior shops and enclosed mall space at the center.
Anchors Von Maur and Classic Cinemas Charlestowne 18 remain, and plans call for retaining both. Other mall buildings would be demolished. In their place, 351 apartments in nine three-story buildings would be built along with 209 rental townhouses in two-story buildings.
The nearby Cooper's Hawk restaurant and the Starbucks/Verizon building would remain as well. The proposal also calls for 40,700 square feet of new commercial development along Main Street as well as a 135-room hotel on the site's west side.
"The mixed-used redevelopment plan for the Charlestowne Mall can be summarized as the creation of an urban shopping and dining entertainment district integrated with residential neighborhoods," Manny Kianicky, with S.R. Jacobson Development Corporation, told aldermen.
He said the public plaza would be the focal point for the entire district.
"It will be perfect for festivals or just as an interesting place to hang out," Kianicky said. "An outdoor amphitheater will be incorporated in the plaza design to provide for community events, such as summer concerts."
Third Ward Alderman Todd Bancroft had several concerns about the plan, including that it is divided into three separate quadrants -- retail, townhouses and apartments.
"Your solution was to put a bunch of stuff in between the three quadrants and none of that stuff is particularly interesting," he said. "It's not very interesting to me that you're going to have food trucks, which are not going to be there in the winter; it's not very interesting to me that you're doing a band shell, which probably isn't going to be used in the winter. So most of that is going to be dead space, probably for seven or eight months out of the year."
Other aldermen voiced concerns about the project's density.
Second Ward Alderman Rita Payleitner, however, spoke in favor of the plans. She noted that other plans to redevelop the mall have been abandoned.
"I've seen and heard so many options attempted, discussed and ultimately not come to fruition," she said. "Is this a dream come true plan? Maybe not. But this is a good plan. It presents workable options, considering the very realistic challenges the site presents."
Kianicky said the developers need city officials to support the plans for the project to be successful.
"At best this is a difficult, extraordinarily expensive project and without everyone pulling in the same direction, it has no chance of success," he said.
Kianicky said the challenge is to figure out how to redevelop the mall in an economically feasible way that pays for an estimated $35 million in redevelopment costs while maintaining the existing commercial uses during reconstruction and satisfying the city's desires for something that will serve the needs of the residents of St. Charles.
The developers plan to initially foot the bill for those costs. But to make the project financially feasible, a tax increment financing district will have to be put in place, he said.
In addition, Kianicky said a revenue stream must be created to pay for the project. After analyzing the situation, the developers said the revenue stream must come primarily from real estate taxes generated from at least 500 residential units.