The five-story, 100-story apartment building comes to Fox River Grove
A five-story, 100-story apartment building is under construction in downtown Fox River Grove as part of a larger plan to develop the area with more residents, businesses and perhaps a hotel.
A housing structure of this scale has not been seen in the village before, said village administrator Derek Soderholm.
But while village officials say this new development will bring new residents to Fox River Grove, leading to additional VAT revenue and new businesses, neighbors on Concord Avenue, behind the proposed apartments, have a number of concerns.
The apartment building is part of an extensive redevelopment proposal that spans about 46 acres on both sides of Route 14 as it approaches the Fox River. The overall proposal includes two additional apartment structures with 200 more units, retail on the other side of Route 14 and ultimately a possible hotel and congress center.
The first phase, which includes all three apartment buildings totaling 300 units, was approved in 2015 by the village council, and a redevelopment agreement that would allow developers to have some of their costs covered through tax increase funding, or TIF, district dollars was approved in 2017.
Work had been about to begin in the fall of 2017, but the project stalled as developers worked to secure funding.
Grove Residences LLC purchased the package at 401 Algonquin Road in 2021, McHenry County records show. A demolition permit was issued in August. In November, a permit was approved that allows the construction of foundations for the building and the foundation walls – but nothing else -, Soderholm said.
The plan is for two-story indoor garage parking underground and five floors with apartments, each floor with 20 units. Once the drawing, engineering, landscape and architectural plans are complete, builders can continue to apply for a full building permit.
But, said Söderholm, “we are not quite there yet.”
“The rainwater aspects and everything is still being reviewed,” Soderholm said.
Grove Residences LLC expects to submit its final plans to the village for review “very soon,” within the next month or two, so work can begin in the spring, said Kirk Rustman, a representative of the development company. The first apartment building would take about a year to complete, meaning residents could move in as early as the end of 2022.
The goal is to immediately move on to the next phases, including a retail trade across Route 14, which is already under consideration, Rustman said. The company is in negotiations with three possible tenants, all restaurants, which could be named publicly already in the autumn.
The village has approved the necessary zoning and special use permits only for the apartment buildings, Soderholm said, which means that any other development will have to go through the village zoning process with public hearings for the village council and the planning and zoning commission.
This level of development could mean a “total revitalization” of Fox River Grove downtown, Rustman said. Transition-oriented development in other communities along the Metra commuter lines has been successful in attracting residents and building retail and commercial, he added.
Residents along Concord Avenue, after observing the demolition of the site, have had several concerns, as Dan Palmer, who lives just meters away from the Grove Residences property, described in a letter to the village on December 19th. Nine other residents also signed the letter.
A major complaint neighbors have is what they consider to be a lack of privacy due to the fact that the development is close to the neighborhood’s property areas.
A “mass influx” of homes once Grove Residences opens its doors is another problem, neighbors said. A security fence or barrier is “essential” to maintain a sense of security and safety in the neighborhood, they said.
“It was always obvious that the neighborhood’s privacy would be removed after the completion of the Grove Residences building, but no one could have imagined that it would be to that extent,” according to the letter. “Several property owners in the neighborhood have had the trees torn down between the properties and left no privacy behind. What was once a quiet street with private backyards is now preparing to welcome 300-400 + new neighbors staring into their courtyards. “
Neighbors from Concord Avenue have made three requests: a security fence that stretches across the entire southern boundary of the Grove Residence property line, which is no shorter than 15 feet and is set in concrete and permanently in nature; a retaining wall; and planting mature trees along the southern property line of the Grove Residences area.
The proposed apartment building will have a negative impact on the neighborhood, Palmer told the Northwest Herald.
“Everyone just wants to look directly into my kitchen and backyard,” Palmer said. “There is no more privacy.”
The village is working with Grove Residence to install a privacy fence, Solderholm told the Northwest Herald.
“Nothing completed at present, but the intention is that there should be a fence of some sort between the property at the rear,” Soderholm said.
There will also be trees planted at the back of the building, probably along the building in the fenced area, he said.
Rustman said he has told neighbors that Grove Residence wants to be a good neighbor and have a good relationship with them. The company is working on landscaping plans and expects to replace the existing fence with a 6-foot high, the maximum allowed in the village ordinance.
The development as proposed meets setbacks and zoning requirements approved by the village council, but officials are taking the neighbors’ concerns into consideration and working to remedy them, Soderholm said.
“We just want to make sure everything is handled and done properly, not just let them get away with what they want to do,” said William Strohl, who lives and helps his father, Mike Strohl, take care of Bettendorf Castle at 418 Concord Ave. “The building is so big and it’s just so tall that you do not get all the privacy you need.”
Soderholm said the village staff will answer residents’ questions and provide necessary information and documents if they have them.