ST. CHARLES – The St. Charles City Council has a new vision for the city's downtown area north of Main Street.
That vision includes more open space, a hotel possibly being built on the former police station site and potentially adding more recreational opportunities such as a zipline above the Fox River. Those elements are included in an update to the city's 2013 Comprehensive Plan that aldermen approved at their meeting Monday.
The area is north of Main Street between 2nd Avenue on the east and 4th Street on the west. The primary purpose of the update is to provide direction for the development of the former police station site along the Fox River, Russell Colby, the city's assistant director of community and economic development, told aldermen.
"The 2013 plan didn't identify any future land use and the City Council would potentially have an interest in soliciting developer interest in that site," Colby said. "So it made sense to look at it comprehensively in the context of what else is going on downtown."
It suggests the land be used for a hotel. The land also could be used for commercial or residential uses, according to the update.
"The old police station and surrounding parking lots are some of the best opportunities for redevelopment along the river within the downtown," it states.
In light of the adverse economic conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, aldermen have decided to hold off on seeking development proposals for the former police station and adjacent city-owned properties.
Aldermen made the decision at the June 8 City Council's Planning and Development Committee meeting. In September, the department's new $24.6 million state-of-the-art police station at 1515 W. Main St. opened for business.
The new 56,000-square-foot station replaces the department's former quarters at 211 N. Riverside Ave., portions of which date back almost 100 years. City staff had previously proposed the city should seek development proposals starting in July.
Demolition of the police station in order to present the site as a "clean slate" is also on hold because of budgetary constraints caused by the pandemic. Staff had been anticipating a developer would break ground on the project in 2021.
During a City Council workshop in March, aldermen determined the municipal parking lots near the former police station should be included as "optional" parts of the redevelopment property, and to require any proposals accommodate municipal parking usage.
The Comprehensive Plan update also takes into consideration the proposed Active River Project. The project would replace the existing dam in downtown St. Charles with whitewater and recreational channels, a recreational zipline above the Fox River and other improvements.
The update envisions keeping the riverfront open and green and improving connections to recreation uses. The plan also calls for residential development in the area to create foot traffic as well as mixed use development.
"Buildings that are in the three-story or four-story range are most preferred," Colby said.