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St. Charles aldermen rethink downtown business restrictions

ST. CHARLES – The city of St. Charles is working to relax the restrictions on the type of businesses that can open downtown.

Since 2006, the Downtown Overlay Zoning District has limited street-level commercial space to businesses that generate pedestrian traffic, such as theaters, hotels, salons, restaurants and retailers.

Ryan Corcoran of Corcoran Commercial Real Estate told the aldermen this week the city is missing out on potential new businesses because of the restrictions.

“It would be good to let the market dictate who goes into those spaces,” he said.

Aldermen, meeting as the Planning and Development Committee, supported relaxed restrictions that would allow office uses throughout the overlay district.

Many indicated they would like the new rules to be in effect for two years.

The district covers an area bound by Fourth Street to Third Avenue and State to Indiana Avenue.

First Ward Alderman Dan Stellato said the new rules could prompt businesses other than bars to take over such properties as the former Scotland Yard and Magoo’s.

“My concern is if we don’t do something like this, then that’s what you’re going to get,” Stellato said.

But they also wondered what will happen with the relaxed rules. Fifth Ward alderman Maureen Lewis was concerned about what looser restrictions might mean for the shuttered shop Vertical Drop.

“That would be a large space not to have any retail in there,” she said.

Fourth Ward Alderman Jim Martin said he’s concerned about interrupting the pedestrian foot traffic.

He pointed to the block between South Second and South Third streets as an example.

“I’m concerned about our control if somebody gets their feet stuck in the building and we can’t get them out,” he said.

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