The Crystal Court shopping center is mostly empty, but plans to turn it into a mix of retail and residences are now expected to be considered by Crystal Lake City Council.
Planning and Zoning Commission member Jim Jouron, who has served on the commission for more than 30 years, said he remembers when the mall near Route 14 was originally approved , adding that it was the first property he had helped approve for zoning.
“[The shopping center] collapsed because of the economy,” Jouron said. “People want to modernize our city. Our city is stuck.
However, plans to redevelop the site, a mixed-use development named Water’s Edge, have Jouron excited about the future of the property.
“I think it’s going to be great,” Jouron said. “I can not wait to be there.”
The property, which sits across from the Three Oaks Recreation Area in Crystal Lake, could eventually include 271 rental units, a hotel, a grocery store and a new restaurant and retail business, according to a presentation from the developers at the meeting. from the planning and zoning commission last week.
The preliminary zoning plan and site plan were enthusiastically received by the commission and recommended to council.
Taking into account city feedback provided last year, the developers, Fiduciary Real Estate Development Inc. and Hamilton Partners, worked to ensure there was plenty of ‘thoughtful’ open space and that the site was very walkable, said Tony DeRosa, vice president of Fiduciary. development.
“We want to create different open spaces to have one of those places where people want to go to get that shot,” DeRosa said. “There’s a lot of excitement in the community for us.”
The photo op would be a plaza in the center of the site with what DeRosa described as “funky chairs,” an art sculpture, colorful backlit murals, and a large sign that read “Crystal Lake.”
Other amenities would include a swimming pool, dog park and recreation grounds, said Katie Cowlin, the town’s director of community development.
The townhouses would be a mix of 20- and 30-unit, two- and three-story buildings, with architectural designs reflecting exterior aesthetics, such as wood and stone, Cowlin said.
A traffic study showed the new Water’s Edge development would generate less traffic and congestion than the old mall, City Engineer Abby Wilgreen said.
At a meeting last year, the developers submitted several different proposals for discussion, but narrowed down the options last week. The main remaining uncertainty is a flexible plot that could become either a hotel or another 20 townhouse units, bringing the site total to 291.
The first step in building the development would be to prepare the site with utilities and road infrastructure, DeRosa said.
The developers plan to build the multi-family townhouses and the grocery store at the same time.
Although DeRosa said he could not name which grocery store for legal reasons, a potential tenant was identified and the developers also spoke with potential retail and restaurant tenants.
DeRosa described the project, which began planning 30 months ago, as “a long time coming” and said they were seeking formal city support, which they could then show to potential tenants.
While other businesses along Route 14 have flourished, the former Crystal Court shopping center has had a troubled history and failed to attract tenants.
The problems arose when Walmart moved its Crystal Lake site to a new location along Highway 31 in 2007, although Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce President and CEO William Eich said that the move to the larger store was overall a win for the city.
“When it moved, it obviously left a hole trying to figure out what to put in there,” Eich said. “But the city has done a good job of considering what our residents would like to see. We are really happy that this site is going in the right direction.
The planning commission and Cowlin said the developers have been great working with them so far.
“It was really great to have this common goal to have something special on this site,” Cowlin said. “It’s going to respond to the city’s vision and what we’ve heard about what residents want to see next to Three Oaks. It’s a good relationship. »
The plan is expected to be reviewed at an upcoming city council meeting, Cowlin said. The proposal was not on the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting.
Mayor Haig Haleblian said he was pleased with the direction the project is taking.
“It’s a complex project with a lot of moving parts and pieces,” Haleblian said. “But Hamilton and Fiduciary are first-class organizations that have been great to work with, and that’s going to be a big part of Crystal Lake.”