To develop Riverside Plaza as a rental property or not to— that is one of the main questions still swirling around the vacant building.
The Planning and Zoning Commission met Monday to hear a request from developer John Breugelmans to create 69 rental units instead of the 54 condominiums originally proposed for the brick building at Route 31 and Route 62 in Algonquin.
Following two hours of, at times, heated discussion, the planning and zoning commission decided to delay a vote and further talks on the proposal until the Aug. 13 meeting as commissioners had more questions. Specifically, the commission wanted more information on how much parking space is needed for those living and working at Riverside.
During Monday’s meeting, Breugelmans told the commission 12 banks rejected him financing for condos.
“The market does not allow us. Nobody will finance it,” he said. He added he had investors and financing options available if they moved forward with apartments.
“It’s the only way today that we can make this project live and make this a success for us, for the village and for all the retailers around us,” Breugelmans said.
As a rental property, he said the units needed to be smaller in order to rent out at a fair market value. Sixty percent of the rentals would be two-bedroom apartments and 40 percent would be one-bedroom ranging in size from 750 to 1,400 square feet.
“We are not squeezing people into a closet. They will have a very comfortable living space,” Breugelmans said. “We have no intention of reducing the quality of this building.”
Questions Swirl Around Riverside Plaza
The question of the night Monday centered around parking space for those living and working at Riverside Plaza.
Breugelmans still plans to develop 11,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor of the building with the 69 rental units above.
When finished, there would be a parking ramp within Riverside Plaza that would be accessible from Front Street, said Russ Farnum, director of community development for the village of Algonquin. There would be around 108 total parking spaces in the ramp though the exact number is still being determined, Farnum said.
Breugelmans said he is talking with Port Edwards Restaurant to acquire 40 additional parking spaces.
With that number of spaces, Breugelmans said he would plan to give tenants at Riverside one free space and then rent out a second space for a fee. In addition, he said four spaces would be available for every 1,000 square feet of retail space.
All five planning and zoning commissioners at Monday’s meeting voiced concerns over parking.
“I think we are really hamstrung with the parking. We have to go outside (Riverside Plaza) to secure additional parking in order to make additional parking available,” said Commissioner Richard Hoferle.
Planning and Zoning Chair James Patrician said he wanted assurance the apartments could be converted back to condos once the market improves.
“We have sort of a short-term economic problem here,” he said. “I don’t want it to become a long-term problem.”
Residents Speak Up
At least 20 residents stopped out to Monday’s meeting with several voicing their opinions on Riverside Plaza.
Trisha Kannon Lloyd, a former director of leasing for Draper and Kramer, spoke up against the rental project.
She said while condos are a tough sell in today’s economy, apartments at Riverside as proposed would not sell and would cause a glut on the area market.
Nearby luxury apartment complexes such as Skyridge Apartments in Crystal Lake and the Villages at Canterfield in West Dundee offer many more amenities at the same or more affordable rent than Riverside is proposing. Skyridge, she said, has a swimming pool, tennis courts and plenty of parking.
“This is ridiculous. This is not sustainable,” Kannon Lloyd said. “This is a black eye that is waiting to happen.”
In addition, the village of Lake in the Hills is planning to build a new apartment complex off Algonquin Road and a 280-unit complex at the Esplanade development near the Algonquin Commons could also move forward at any time.
Others who lived and work in the area of Riverside Plaza expressed a variety of concerns from how the construction of the project could affect business to disdain over the switch to a rental property and the type of tenants it could draw to fear over vacancies in the building and what that could mean for the area.
Breuegelmans defended the project throughout the meeting. He said if the village moved forward with a rental property, he would likely be able to fill it in a year. As for condos, he said it could take as many as eight years to fill.
“We feel very determined that we will complete this,” he said. “With a rental, we will be in a stabilized situation within two years of today.”