St. Charles goes ahead with apartment plan over park district objections
St. Charles aldermen overrode objections by park district officials in voting Monday to approve a development project that will place 250 apartments on the west side.
The Prairie Winds development is the vision of Big Rock-based Executive Capital Corp., which owns a number of XSport gyms in the area. The company will build 25 total buildings on Bricher Road between the Kane County Judicial Center complex and the Lowe's store that will serve as a buffer against Randall Road traffic. Rents will range from $1,350 to $2,200 per month.
Those are all numbers both city and park district officials like. The project will create new, annual property tax revenue for both taxing bodies. But it was the ongoing cost of providing city and recreation services to the approximately 500 new residents that divided aldermen and park commissioners.
The park district stood to receive a $1.27 million check from the developer in lieu of actual park space on the property. But when the developers balked at that price tag, aldermen agreed to knock $481,000 off the total.
Alderman Todd Bancroft said the developers would build upscale recreational facilities on site as part of the complex, including a clubhouse and pool.
"There's a significant investment being made there," Bancroft said.
The park district still will receive $789,000 in fees from the developer. But park officials, in a letter, said the amount is both insufficient and sets a dangerous precedent. There is no way to guarantee quality and safety of the amenities the developer creates going into the future.
"A resident's recreational needs extend well beyond their home or neighborhood," the letter reads. "The proposed private amenities will not reduce the demand for local public recreational activities."
Aldermen disagreed with the letter. They did agree to consider revisions to the city ordinance that contains part of the formula for calculating the fees developers pay to both the park and school districts.
Park Commissioner Brian Charles was not allowed to speak at Monday's city council meeting. In an interview, Charles said he hopes park officials will have more of a seat at the table in discussing the city ordinance than they did for the Prairie Winds project.
"Having something that's private count toward something public is antithetical to the community's needs," Charles said. "This deal was already done by the time we walked in the door. The city has domain over parks and planning. But the problem is the city isn't in the game of parks and planning."