Is a 3-unit townhouse building appropriate for a St. Charles neighborhood?

  • A three-unit townhouse building is proposed for the downtown St. Charles area, though city officials and neighbors are concerned about whether it will fit in with the surrounding single-family houses.

    A three-unit townhouse building is proposed for the downtown St. Charles area, though city officials and neighbors are concerned about whether it will fit in with the surrounding single-family houses. Courtesy of the city of St. Charles

 
 
Updated 8/16/2019 5:21 PM

A three-unit townhouse building proposed for the downtown St. Charles area is aesthetically pleasing, aldermen say, but does it fit with the character of the surrounding single-family neighborhood?

That's the question facing city officials if developers decide to proceed with a zoning application for the site at 504 S. Third Ave.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The planning and development committee this week reviewed concept plans for the double lot, which contains a single-family home that was converted into a two-unit residence.

Geneva-based Hogan Design & Construction is proposing tearing down the existing structure and constructing townhouses facing the Fox River. The building would contain two full stories, outdoor patios and a partial third floor with a rooftop deck.

Because of the building's size, the project would require a planned unit development, or PUD, to accommodate various zoning deviations, planner Ellen Johnson said. However, the city typically limits PUDs to larger-scale developments that are beneficial to the public.

That's where some aldermen are hesitating.

"I think it's a beautiful building," Alderman Rita Payleitner said. "But whether it's appropriate, or whether it calls for a PUD, that's kind of where I take a step back myself."

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Members of the city's plan commission expressed similar concerns and suggested reducing the height of the building to lower the impact on adjacent houses. But doing so would give the structure a flat roof, changing the style to be inconsistent with the rest of the neighborhood, said Jon Green, president of Engineering Resources Associates.

"We think this type of colonial architecture fits better in the community and is more sensitive to surrounding properties," he said. "I think this is complementary to some of the new developments that are happening in the downtown area in terms of answering the needs of a varying housing stock in the city of St. Charles."

Some nearby residents also expressed concerns over the building's size, landscaping, and traffic issues at the adjacent Third and South avenues intersection. Adding townhouses to an already crowded street could make matters worse, neighbor Laura Berry said, noting their proximity to the busy Riverside Avenue doesn't help.

"It's cute, but I don't believe it fits with the character of the neighborhood," she said.

The plan aims to alleviate traffic and parking concerns with two-car garages behind each townhouse, as well as a single access point to an asphalt driveway off South Avenue, Green said.

The next step is for developers to submit a zoning application, including engineering plans, to the city for consideration, Johnson said.

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