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St. Charles' East Main Street corridor eligible for improvement status, says city consultant

Published: Thursday, June 14, 2012 5:32 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, June 14, 2012 6:59 a.m. CDT

ST. CHARLES – Conditions along the East Main Street corridor make the 720 acres from Sixth Avenue to Oak Road eligible to be designated as a business improvement district, a consultant for the city concluded.

Chris Aiston, St. Charles’ economic development director, said he wasn’t surprised by the finding based on the condition of many parcels in that area.

The study area encompassed about 160 structures, 250 parcels and adjacent rights of way. It included commercial areas such as Charlestowne Mall, Tin Cup Pass, the former Baker’s Square and Main Street Commons.

It would be known as the East Gateway Business District.

In a presentation to the Planning and Development Committee this week, a consultant from Ehlers and Associates showed photographs of inadequate street layouts, deterioration, improper or obsolete platting and economic under use – characteristics that support the creation of a business improvement district.

With business districts, cities can buy, manage and lease real estate; make public improvements; enter into contracts with private property owners and developers; and, among other powers, employ or retain people for district planning, administration and marketing.

The city also could collect additional taxes for sales, services and hotels in that district that will go toward projects to redevelop that area.

“It’s one of the few tools that the state of Illinois gives municipalities in terms of creating economic development opportunities,” Aiston said.

Now that the formal review of eligibility is complete, the consultant – pending City Council approval – will proceed to Phase II, Aiston said. Ehlers and Associates will develop a redevelopment plan outlining the anticipated economic development activities and their costs, and the phase should last about three to four weeks.

The last phase will include a public hearing, but the public is welcome to contact the city at any time, Aiston said. He said the city plans to distribute educational fliers to the affected businesses so they have a better understanding of the issue.

“We have talked to some brokers who think it will make properties up and down the district more valuable and marketable,” Aiston said.

Know more

Eligibility criteria outlined in the Business District Act. Potential business improvement districts must meet one; the East Main Street corridor meets all six:

• Predominance of defective, non-existent or inadequate street layout • Unsanitary or unsafe conditions • Deterioration of site improvements • Improper subdivision or obsolete platting • The existence of conditions that endanger life or property by fire or other causes, or any combination of those factors • Retards the provision of housing accommodations or constitutes an economic or social liability, an economic under use of the area or menace to the public health, safety, morals or welfare

Source: Ehlers and Associates

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