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Riverside Plaza Discussions Heat Up

Algonquin's Planning and Zoning Commission met Monday to hear Riverside Plaza developer John Breugelmans new proposal to create rental units within the facility.

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.”

Mike July 11, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Price the condo's to sell and get it done. If the owner of the building paid too much, then he/she will take a loss. It's America; people win and people lose in a free market society. If the city licenses the owner to only sell condo's, then the owner will make his business decisions based on that premise. It is BS that it will take 8 years to sell out the building. It sounds to me like the owner is trying to leverage the city with a threat. If the pricing and the financing is right for the condo's, they will move appropriately. I wish the owner good luck. Profit is not a dirty word. Lastly, who said to tear down the building? So, then what? An empty lot or a 7/11?
Nancy Dombrowski July 11, 2012 at 02:16 PM
I agree with Mike. Price the condos to sell. The downtown area does not need 70-80 rental units. Algonquin has done an great job with dispersing rental units throughout the village but to have such a concentration in the downtown historic area I'm afraid would bring the quality of living down for the rest of us who own homes.
Mikein algonquin July 11, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Tear the thing down. Who in their right mind approved this? Why would they approve a building with the rear end at the most major intersection in the downtown area. If they wanted to have a proper exposure, the building should have been rotated 90 degrees clockwise so the front would be inviting to the downtown area?
R.S. July 11, 2012 at 02:44 PM
You have to love all the morons who are saying tear it down. If we tore down everything that was an eye-sore we would need to see Port Edwards, Shell and half the other buildings downtown go! If you read the article the builder said he could not get the loan to sell this building as condos. This is a reflection of our wonderful economy. This is not a fault of the new builder. Let's blame the city representatives for allowing the original (now bankrupt) builder to start this project in the first place. Remember them at election time.
Anthony P. July 11, 2012 at 02:53 PM
TEAR IT DOWN ALREADY!!! TEAR IT DOWN ALREADY!!! TEAR IT DOWN ALREADY!!! Put in some nice shopping such as The Arboretum of South Barrington. If these TRUSTEE'S cannot figure this out after all the complaints on how to make the downtown area more attractive, then they NEED TO GO!
Anthony P. July 11, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Actually, it is an eyesore. It's stuffed in that small lot all the way to the road. It's the first thing you see when you enter downtown from the North or West. No one wants to invest money and we've looked at a construction site for 7 years. It's one thing if the construction site was active and will get tenants. ALL THAT VACANT BUILDING DOES IS GIVE THE IMPRESSION THAT THE DOWNTOWN AREA IS NOT DOING WELL AT ALL. Have you seen all the other articles on here on how to make the downtown area better? I guess not!
R.S. July 11, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Great Idea, stick a 50 acre project in a 1 acre spot. You should run for village trustee.
Anthony P. July 11, 2012 at 03:02 PM
I AGREE! This is the best idea to make the downtown area more attractive. All I see lately is PATCH articles on how to make the downtown area more attractive, c'mon it's quite obvious. Here's your answer people!!!
Sheila July 11, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Tear it down. Should never have been built there in the first place. Since the entrance/exit to the underground parking is on a small side street (across from the Texan) this is going to cause major traffic problems. Parking downtown has always been an issue and this will just cause more problems. Tear it down and make it a park...and hold the Farmers Market there.
A July 11, 2012 at 03:13 PM
What difference does it make if it's rental or condos, why would people think that rental units are bad and as Nancy says we don't need a concentration of that in the down town. Really??? Why people who need to rent or want to are bad people? Give me a break! Either way we need rental space, as the builder said its very difficult to obtain loans so many MANY people are needing to rent. These aren't shacks or Low income housing. These are working people who would spend money in our downtown area. Please people get a grip, tear it down, would you say it if that was your money. He's trying to do condos again NO BANK will finance him, as if that's a shock. As far as other options coming up esplanade and other possibilities, well they aren't available and started yet, so do what's right village of Algonquin and stop giving new businesses such a hard time and vote it thru and get this building done already!
Jill Reynolds July 11, 2012 at 03:56 PM
It is an eyesore, however in defense of the developer a huge investment and loss. It can't be apartments without enough parking and no way can Port Edwards give up their parking as they were using this open lot for their restaurant before the building went up and they need more...It must be a condo and the price should be around the $200,000 range, I believe they want $400,000 which is absurd for this area. I live in a lovely 4 bedroom home with a full basement and my home in today's market is now valued at only $235,000 and we bought it for $278,000 11 years ago brand new...To think you can get a dime more than $200,000 is absurd and the owners would be buying at a huge lose. Go back to the 12 banks and negotiate at what price would they be willing to finance mortgages at for this property and let them decide on the value...You will lose everything if you don't negotiate. And if you do decide on apartments the 750 is way too small. Go with 55 apartments if you have to and make the one bedrooms 950 square feet and the two can be 1,200...Don't get greedy, just make it work, or take a total lose and walk away. You can buy the land across the street and put in parking if you need to.
A. Swanson July 11, 2012 at 04:16 PM
How many parking spots do you need? Right now there are 4 for every unit. The units are 1 or 2 bedroom, what difference does apartment or condo make on the parking???? Why is parking have anything to do with condo vs apartment? Same amount of bedrooms so same amount of people living in the space so same amount of parking. 750 sq feet is not small, look at space in Chicago 400-650sq is the norm, cunant court in lith has units that are 600-750 no ones complaining over there. The way the building is built may be the reason not GREED. Why do people go straight to the builder being the bad guy, he's trying to recover any way he can, he bought this from a bankrupt company, we should be happy otherwise it would be sitting there half done, atleast the outside is now finished not making it such the eyesore. Why can't people look on the positive instead of always judging, accussing or negative. How about we support this because it already there and make it the best it can be and welcome the business renting it out or selling them and what it could do for our downtown businesses. What we don't need are more retailers that can't make it. Algonquin commons is just now full, there are so many vacant commercial sites we don't need another "arboretum" spring hill is vacant for Pete's sake.
Doug Malcolm July 11, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Interesting that City Planners are giving this guy a hard time when they approved such a stupid project in the first place. At least this guy had some courage to take a chance to salvage and finish the building in a recession. I say to give him a break and let him sell apartments if that is what it takes for survival. He will have a tough time even doing that. Who would rent there when a house nearby at 302 N Main Street just sold for $37,500?
Amie Schaenzer (Editor) July 11, 2012 at 04:23 PM
Hello A. Under the new proposal, there would be more units. This is likely why the parking issue came up again.
B.S. July 11, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Are you people crazy?? This is the nicest building in Algonquin--The rest of the town is full of decaying empty buildings and storefronts for sale and lease. Cars run the town with huge traffic jams--This Class A apartment building would play a critical role in the revitalization of a dying town--NOONE can afford to build and NOONE will get financing to build Condos PERIOD-- GET OVER IT ALREADY---Condo quality 69 unit apartments will get high-end tenants who make more than $75,000 per year and can actually afford to buy goods and services in town--whats wrong with that? This is exactly what this town needs badly!!
Mike B July 11, 2012 at 04:55 PM
This building was never feasible, even when it was proposed during the real estate boom. The Village was told in 2009 that completing the property as apartments or possibly as an assisted living facility was the only possible way to complete it and they refused to permit either. Thus, it languished and here we are again. Multi-family condominiums only succeed in markets where development land is in short supply and expensive, otherwise they can't compete. The Village authorities are clueless. In regards to the current developer, he paid almost nothing to acquire the building (land value). He is either ignorant to the market, or he never intended to finish it as condos as almost anyone would have told him it wouldn't work. My bet is he deluded as the previous developer.
Anthony P. July 11, 2012 at 06:18 PM
R.S. - nice one buddy. Get real. I bet you have money vested in this pile of crap. I'm not sure how you get a 50 acre project out of this. It's more geared to the style of store fronts.
East Sider July 11, 2012 at 06:24 PM
NO WAY should this albatross be turned into rental apartments! The parking would be a major issue and it would not help to "upscale" the downtown at all by making smaller rental units! Mr. Breugelmans knew exactly what he was buying when he made the deal. This building was to be a luxury condo building with small shops on the ground level. He was well aware of the economy and housing market. It makes you wonder if he's had this apartment idea in his head since the day he bought it.
Anthony P. July 11, 2012 at 06:24 PM
B.S. we are sick of B.S.! $75k, really? Anyone with that salary will get LAND. I certainly did.
Soonwinner July 11, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Even as apartments they will be overpriced. Eventually this owner will go belly up and then the project will become a PROJECT. Say hello to Section 8 housing in 5 years when all the legal steps are done. Village should buy it now at a distressed price and tear it down.
R.S. July 11, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Hey Anthony, why don't you buy the building and tear it down? It sounds like you are the business man this town needs. Tear down the building and put another strip center (with the unbelievable stylings of the Arboretum), lord knows we do not have enough of that! By the way, no money invested.
Anthony P. July 11, 2012 at 06:59 PM
I'm only providing suggestions whether it looks like the Arboretum or not - I can give a crap. What 'busymom' above suggested seems to be a great solution aesthetically. Anyone putting money into that thing is basically throwing it to the dump, no different that tearing it down. If that guy bought it for the value of the land, then he certainly would profit long term ripping it down. So far, you have yet to provide any solution or pick a side. Rather you just criticize one stance. At least all the buildings you say are an eyesore are being used and have running businesses in them. Right now the trustee's have better ideas than you do.
Carrington July 11, 2012 at 08:11 PM
The village officials who agreed to this Albatross should be on the hook for something that no one in their right mind would have ever thought would be a success in the first place. Wow, expensive condos with views of the Shell station or Port Edwards and the busiest corner in McHenry County, wasn't that something to sell? No question, now that the trustees agreed to it, that if they want this ugly pig to be anything, it has to go rental. As for what they really should do, I agree that it should be torn down and the area be developed to be parkland. At least, that would add value to the downtown area.
Jim Rehnberg July 11, 2012 at 09:11 PM
As Home owners on Harrison st. We do not need more Traffic and Parking hassles at 62/Harrison St. If this project is deemed "Unfeasible" it will be positive to our community 1/2 mile "Upriver" from the corner. Jim Rehnberg, President Oak Hills Homeowners Assoc.
Tamara Hazlett July 12, 2012 at 06:02 AM
So funny to read this. i was just thinking the same thing, the biulding should have been built the other way, with the entrance on the side street still of course. Who the heck wants to buy a condo with a balcony overlooking one of the top ten most congested intersections in IL? Who the heck approved this building anyways?! The downtown is dwarfed by this monsterosity. It's so out of scale with the rest of the area. I've said from the beginning that anyone who has the money to buy these condos sure won't live there. There's plenty of other less noisy, prettier places to buy right now.
Ken R. July 12, 2012 at 07:40 AM
I agree with Jill about the price of the condos. As of now they are priced over $300,000. Bring them down to a realistic affordable price. I think that they should stay as condos but be more affordable. The new builder has made the building look a thousand times better than what it did look like. Thank you very much! Big for the town but it is doable.
Mic Flynn July 12, 2012 at 06:07 PM
When the new developer took over he was a hero, didn't he look it financing before opening his mouth? Now he wants to make some more money. I thought the deal was that the entire building had to be finished by a certain date, if it wasn't the Village had the right to tear it down at the owners expense. Tear it down and start from scratch.
Martin July 12, 2012 at 07:43 PM
Level it. I understand why Breugelmans would want to save what was a bad idea from the beginning. However, turning this into more rental units than condo units would mean more people occupying the facility (if it could really ever be filled). The extra cars would create a worse nightmare at this intersection than already exists. As for keeping the original condo concept, I can't see anyone wanting to buy..with the building being so close to the street...not to mention the ugly view one would have as an owner.
Jade July 18, 2012 at 04:49 AM
The Farmer's Market was fine where it was, in a nice tree-lined area near the river and gazebo where there were occasionally concerts. There were other problems that caused the market to fail...mainly not having enough vendors that would provide local produce and goods, but also not enough advertising to attract those vendors and potential customers. The other problem was always parking! How would moving the market to a very congested corner with lots of traffic solve that problem? (Not to mention the smell of auto emissions to add to the farmer's market atmosphere!). We need to move forward and try to make this building work in the community. It's been an eyesore for such a long time mainly because it's not finished and not inhabited! . Maybe the village should give the owner a 5 year trial on apartments. In this economy there are many people that don't want to make a long term commitment on property partly due to an unstable job market. Did we all forget already how many people lost their homes in the last 5+ years? There are plenty of people that like living in a vibrant downtown area. I'm sure the local businesses would benefit from 70-100 people living there and spending their money locally. No, there may not be a swimming pool or tennis courts, but you have the Fox River, the clock tower park and fountain, summer concerts across the street and several great restaurants within a few blocks. The potential is there and we certainly don't need to tear down a new building!
Can do January 23, 2013 at 01:42 AM
Is a parking garage out of the question? Dedicate one floor on the building to amenities-attached maybe to a swimming pool on top of the Garage's roof? I'd buy that... $$$-well, fer sure rent one in a building like that in this area!

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