The Riverside Plaza project will move forward as a rental project.
The village of Algonquin has been working with the developer of the project, John Breugelmans, to come to a compromise on what to do with the building that continues to sit vacant at Route 31 and Route 62.
The building was originally approved for development of condos. As the economy has shifted, Breugelamns said no bank would finance condos and requested a shift to rentals.
In September, Algonquin's Committee of a Whole in an unofficial vote turned down Breugelmans' request for 69 rental units, requesting fewer and more spacious units in the building.
On Thursday, the Algonquin Village Board voted 5-2 to approve an amendment to the planned unit development allowing a change in the floor plan from 54 condominiums to 63 rental units. Trustees Debby Sosine and John Spella voted against the amendment.
Both expressed concern over the development moving forward as a rental property.
“I still have concerns,” Sosine said. “I have had people talk to me and they are not OK with the increase in units.”
Spella echoed those sentiments.
“I too have talked to people on both sides of town, east and west, north and south … my consensus was that most of the community I spoke to was not in favor of this property,” he said.
Other trustees said moving forward with the rental plan for Riverside Plaza was crucial for the future development of Algonquin's downtown.
"The point was to get people back downtown. I think we are looking at something that is workable. Something that is going to achieve our goal,” Trustee Robert Smith said.
Russ Farnum, community development director, said the changes come with fifteen stipulations that must be met by the developer.
Some of those stipulations include: the rentals must be converted to owner-occupied condos by July 1, 2018; Riverside Plaza must be actively under construction within a year; and the units can be no smaller than 920 square feet with 18 of the units over 1,400 square feet, Farnums said.
Two-thirds of development will be two-bedroom units while one-third will be one-bedroom units. The agreement also set up the property as a special service area, which allows for a tax to be levied on the property if necessary to pay for repairs or necessary maintenance of the property, Farnum said.
The Riverside development will include indoor parking and retail space at the ground level.
The approved plan for rental units has been a long-time coming.
Breugelmans first told the Committee of a Whole in May that he could not develop condos in the current market. Since then, there have been several heated discussions at village board meetings and revisions in plans by village staff.
“All of our critics have helped to make this project better in the long run,” Farnum said. “We feel this plan meets the goals of our downtown for the long term.”