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City talks future of First Street project

Downtown development recurring theme at Thursday event

ST. CHARLES – The future of the First Street Redevelopment project was on the minds of several people Thursday.

St. Charles city staff fielded multiple questions about the project during the Downtown St. Charles Partnership’s City Update program.

The event was held Thursday in the City Council Chambers at the St. Charles Municipal Building, 2 E. Main St.

The longstanding third phase of the First Street project came to a halt Monday when the St. Charles City Council decided not to grant any more extensions to First Street Development LLC and SMN Development LLC for their parts of the project.

The council previously granted the developers nine extensions to begin construction on the project, which would have included three buildings with residential units, retail space and a parking deck.

“We have the opportunity to look forward,” City Administrator Mark Koenen said to the 35 residents, business and property owners who attended the event. “That doesn’t mean people involved in the past can’t share again.”

First Street LLC has a 60-day right to cure time frame as part of the agreement to come back and fulfill its part of the development, Koenen said. If there is no response, then the city will have to create a process to seek out other interested groups.

“We don’t have anyone in the wings,” Koenen said, in response to a question about other builders for First Street. “We are looking for developers.”

Audience members submitted their questions anonymously by writing them down on index cards that were later collected and read out loud. One of the cards had a question about how the city utilized the tax increment finance, or TIF, bonds that have to be repaid by 2027.

The city created a TIF district to help pay for refurbishing the First Street area.

A total of $34 million in TIF bonds were spent for multiple parts, including the plaza adjacent to ZaZa’s Italian Steakhouse, 5 S. 1st St., the First Street angle parking and streetscape additions, land acquisition and utilities, Koenen said.

The First Street Redevelopment project site is bordered by the Fox River and Illinois, First and Main streets in downtown St. Charles.

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