A five-story, 100-unit apartment building is being built in downtown Fox River Grove as part of a larger plan to develop the area with more residents, businesses, and possibly a hotel.
There has never been a residential structure of this size in the village, said village manager Derek Soderholm.
But while village officials say this new development will bring new residents to Fox River Grove, resulting in additional sales tax revenues and new business, the Concord Avenue neighbors behind the proposed homes have a number of concerns.
The apartment building is part of an extensive redevelopment project that spans 46 acres on either side of Route 14 near the Fox River. The overall proposal includes two additional apartment structures with 200 more units, retail on the other side of Route 14 and possibly a possible hotel and convention center.
The first phase, which includes all three apartment buildings for a total of 300 units, was approved by the village board in 2015 and a redevelopment agreement that would allow developers to cover part of their costs through tax increase funding or TIF district dollars was in. approved 2017.
Work, which was due to start in the fall of 2017, was on schedule, but the project stalled as developers worked to secure funding.
Grove Residences LLC purchased the property at 401 Algonquin Road in 2021, according to McHenry County’s records. A demolition permit was issued in August. A permit was issued in November that allowed the building of foundations for the building and the foundation walls – but nothing else – to be built, Soderholm said.
Two floors of underground parking spaces and five floors of apartments with 20 units each are planned. Once the drawing, engineering, landscaping, and architectural plans are complete, developers can proceed with applying for a full building permit.
But, said Soderholm, “we’re not quite there yet.”
“The rainwater aspects and everything are still under review,” said Soderholm.
Grove Residences LLC expects to submit its final plans to the village for review “very soon,” within the next month or two, so that work can begin this spring, said Kirk Rustman, a development company representative. The completion of the first apartment building would take about a year, so that the residents could move in as early as the end of 2022.
The goal is to move on to the next stages immediately, including a retail item via Route 14 that is already under consideration, Rustman said. The company is in talks with three possible tenants, all restaurants that could be publicly named as early as the fall.
The village has approved the necessary zoning and special use permits only for the residential buildings, said Soderholm.
That level of development may mean a “total revitalization” of downtown Fox River Grove, Rustman said. Traffic-centric development in other communities along Metra’s commuter lines has successfully attracted residents and built up retail and commercial services, he added.
Residents along Concord Avenue had several concerns after watching the site being demolished, which Dan Palmer, who lives a few feet from the Grove Residences, explained in a letter to the village on December 19. Nine other residents also signed the letter.
One of the main complaints neighbors have is the lack of privacy due to the proximity of the development to the neighborhood property lines.
A “mass influx” of residences as soon as Grove Residences open their doors is another problem, neighbors said. A security fence or barrier is “essential” to keep the neighborhood feeling safe, they said.
“It has always been clear that with the completion of the Grove Residences building, neighborhood privacy would be taken away, but no one could have imagined that this would happen to this extent,” the letter said. “Several owners of neighborhood properties have torn down the trees between the properties so that there is no privacy left. What was once a quiet street with private backyards is now preparing to welcome 300-400+ new neighbors as they stare into their gardens. “
Concord Avenue neighbors have made three requests: a security fence that spans the entire southern limit of the Grove Residence property line, is no less than four feet, and is embedded in concrete and permanent nature; a retaining wall; and the planting of old trees along the southern line of the Grove Residences property.
The proposed home will have a negative impact on the neighborhood, Palmer told the Northwest Herald.
“Everyone will be looking straight into my kitchen and garden,” said Palmer. “There is no more privacy.”
The village is working with Grove Residence to install a privacy-style fence, Solderholm told the Northwest Herald.
“Nothing is finalized at this point, but the intention is for some kind of fence to be built between the property to the rear,” said Soderholm.
Trees will also be planted at the back of the building, likely along the building on the fence area, he said.
Rustman said he told the neighbors that Grove Residence wanted 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 fence, the maximum allowed by village ordinance.
The proposed development meets the setback and zoning requirements approved by the village board, but officials are taking neighbors’ concerns into account and working to mitigate them, Soderholm said.
“We just want to make sure that everything is approached and done correctly, and not just let them get away with anything they want to do,” says William Strohl, who lives in 418 and helps his father Mike Strohl to look after Schloss Bettendorf take care of Concord Ave. “The building is so big and it’s just so high that you don’t have the privacy you need.”
Soderholm said the village staff will answer residents’ questions and provide the necessary information and documents when they have them.