ST. CHARLES – A project that would turn the site of a former plastics factory into a residential neighborhood has run into a roadblock at City Hall.
This week, the St. Charles City Council’s Planning and Development Committee recommended the council reject an agreement with a developer that would have allowed the developer access to about $6 million in tax increment financing funds to underpin the project.
The 7-2 vote reflected the discomfort aldermen expressed over various aspects of the so-called Lexington Club housing development.
“I just have a bad feeling over the viability of this project,” said 3rd Ward Alderman Bill Turner. “I’m afraid of the economic consequences should this development not be brought to full completion.”
St. Charles officials have discussed the project since last fall, when developer Lexington Homes proposed more than 120 homes on the former Applied Composites site.
The property is bordered by State and Dean streets on the north, the Chicago and N.W. Railroad on the south, Fifth Street on the west and 12th Street on the east. The project, however, has come under consistent criticism from St. Charles residents and aldermen worried that the project’s focus on townhouses did not fit in the area.
Aldermen also questioned the need to give the developer $6 million in TIF funds from a TIF district created specifically for the residential development.
City economic development officials and supporters of the proposal noted that the TIF district would be “pay-as-you-go,” meaning the city would not need to pay any money to the developer until demolition of existing buildings on the site and clean up the soil was completed and some houses were built.
They also noted that the project would bring new life to a part of the city now considered blighted, adding $57 million to the city’s property tax base.
“I think those are pretty good things for the city,” said 2nd Ward Alderman Cliff Carrignan.
As chairman of the planning and development committee, Carrignan could not vote at the committee level.
Turner said he understands the nature of the TIF district, as it is proposed. But he said the project, as it stands, still holds “too many unanswered questions” to earn his support.
“Right now, they say it’s $6 million,” Turner said. “We don’t know what the final plat will look like, so we don’t know what the final cost will be.”
He also said the project should be focused on single-family homes, rather than townhouses.
“They’re talking about 131 units,” Turner said. “That’s just too many.”
The City Council could take up the matter as soon as next week. But there is no guarantee the developer still will wish for a vote. A defeat of the redevelopment agreement would mean the project could not come back to the council for reconsideration for a year.
An attorney representing the developer did not return a message left Wednesday.