Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Algonquin Board OK's Apartment Plan For Riverside Plaza
Owner John Breugelmans said, with the change, he was sure he could get financing to finish construction on what was supposed to be an anchor for Downtown Algonquin development when it was first approved six years ago. He'd originally asked for 69 apartment units after six months of trying to market luxury condos produced only four offers, all contingent. "This is absolutely a pleasure for me that now we have a solution," he said.
It wasn't a pleasure for trustees John Spella and Debbie Sosine who voted against it. Spella was dubious that having patrons for retailers in the mixed-use building park south of the Port Edwards Restaurant was going to work. "Most of the people I've talked to were not in favor of making this a rental property." Sosine complained she couldn't make sense of the floor plan sketches Breugelmans submitted instead of "the architect's drawings that I've had all these years."
However, Trustee Jerry Glogowski said one of research expeditions to the similar, albeit smaller, River Place development in McHenry found, "It did bring people into the Downtown area."
Village President John Schmitt said even high-end apartments would "put shoe leather on the streets Downtown."
Construction on what came to be called Tyvek Towers came to a halt in late 2008 when Amcore Bank, in the process of collapsing, pulled the plug on construction loans. The Village finally filed suit to tear the hulk down as a safety hazard but relented after Breugelmans and his son bought the half-finished project promising to complete it. After repairs and brick facing, though, Breugelmans told Algonquin's Board, unless he could change the condos to apartments, he couldn't get the money to build anything inside.
The plan approved Tuesday gives Breugelmans six fewer apartments than he said he needed, calls for building them with luxury materials and sets a July 1, 2018 deadline to reconvert them to condos with stiff penalties for failure.
Coincidentally, after the Board reconvened to give Riverside Plaza apartments formal approval, trustees also OK'ed a settlement to end a legal battle over another Algonquin project that failed when the housing bubble imploded. Barrington Bank & Trust was supposed to pay the Village up to $1.8 million to finish roads and drainage when the developer of Creek's Crossing subdivision on Sleepy Hollow Road went belly up. The upshot of three years of legal wrangling said Village Manager Bill Ganek was, "We got the money, the work was done, they had to pay all the legal fees and we have a new letter of credit (worth $122,000 left over)."
In the pic: Developer John Breugelmans said Tuesday he was happy with the Algonquin Village Board plan to allow finishing Riverside Plaza as apartments. Only he didn't look it.