Frequently Asked Questions
Where did the idea for the project originate?
Planning for the First Street project dates from 2000, when the City adopted a Downtown Strategy Plan.
The City recognized through long-range planning that the presence of major state highways through St. Charles created challenges for establishing a cohesive, pedestrian district across the downtown. The City also identified that for downtown businesses to thrive, they need to be active throughout the day, and a new population base of residents and daytime employees in the downtown could provide a wider customer base.
The Strategy Plan identified the First Street corridor as underutilized and as the most significant opportunity for new development to support the downtown.
Why was First Street chosen for redevelopment?
Prior to 2006, the character of First Street was very different from the downtown environment that exists along Main Street. Originally, First Street was as an industrial area, with a railroad spur from Geneva extending along First Street into downtown. Over the years, factories and industrial buildings were replaced by commercial service businesses and parking lots. Buildings along the street were laid out to be accessed by cars, not pedestrians, and public access to the riverfront was limited.
As the downtown area began to see renewed investment in the 1990s, the City identified the area as a location for a public parking garage. Through the 2000 Downtown Strategy Plan, the City determined that the First Street corridor had potential for more significant development. Given the location in the center of downtown and proximity to Main Street, the corridor offered an ideal location to create a critical mass of new development to support the downtown.
How was the project planned?
Through a public planning process, the City formulated and adopted the First Street Design Guidelines in 2002 and then used this document as a basis to plan the project. The design guidelines recommended:
- A district of truly mixed uses, with uses mixed within each building.
- Pedestrian- scaled storefronts and commercial uses on the ground floor, facing both streets and the river.
- Upper level office and residential uses to take advantage of views of the river and downtown and to add more population and activity to the area.
- Quality architecture to reflect the enduring qualities of other downtown buildings, including the use of traditional architectural elements and materials.
- A complete pedestrian network, with access to the riverfront.
- Public parking to be provided in the interior of the site.
The City approved development plans for the First Street Redevelopment project in 2006 as a five phase project. Phases 1 and 2 of the project were constructed from 2007 to 2009.
In 2013, the City adopted a new Comprehensive Plan that includes a Downtown Sub Area Plan. The plan identifies that the initial phases of the First Street project have contributed positively to the energy and appearance of Downtown and reaffirms the City’s long term vision to complete the remaining phases of the project.
Construction began on Phase 3 of the project in 2015.
How does this project benefit the community?
First Street provides an opportunity to create a “pedestrian oriented” development with convenient parking, where traffic can be controlled and land uses are mixed to support each other in an attractive setting along the Fox River– unique shops, restaurants, offices, and residences. A redeveloped First Street also offers opportunities for aesthetic improvements at the river’s edge, expansion of the river walk, enhanced streetscaping and public plazas for people to enjoy. Redevelopment of First Street will promote investment and create a ripple effect for redevelopment in the downtown area.
What are the key elements of the Project?
- Multi-story mixed use buildings.
- Street-level storefront spaces for retail, service businesses, and restaurants.
- Upper level residential units and office spaces.
- Two parking garages with over 500 public parking spaces, plus additional on-street and surface parking spaces. (The Plaza Parking Deck building with over 400 public parking spaces was completed in 2009)
- Public improvements include new streets and sidewalks, streetscape features (lighting, benches, landscaping, etc.) as well as replacement of electric, water and sewer infrastructure.
- Public access along the river via an improved, two-level river walk.
- Public plaza at the north end near Main Street, extending from the river west across First Street (Portion of plaza west of First St. completed).
- Relocation and expansion of the Blue Goose supermarket (completed in 2009)
What is being planned for the Phase 3 riverfront property?
In March 2015, the City approved plans for the development of Phase 3, including the riverfront property between First St. and the Fox River, north of Illinois St. Plans for Phase 3 include three mixed-use buildings and a 110- space public parking deck.
- Building #1: First floor retail uses, upper level office use (to be fully occupied by ALE Solutions, which currently has offices across the street at Fox Island Square.)
- Building #2: First floor retail uses, upper level residential use.
- Building #3: First floor bank and commercial uses (commercial uses to be determined, may include office or retail use), upper levels will include bank/office (south 1/3 of the building) and residential uses (north 2/3 of the building).
The parking deck will offer public parking and private parking will be available
under the buildings. The bilevel riverwalk along the river front and an east plaza
across from the existing First Street plaza remain part of the site layout.
Streetscaping elements, including brick pavers, planter boxes, street trees, lighting and benches, are planned as a part of the Phase 3 project.
Construction began on Building #1 in August 2015. Building #1 and the public parking deck will be completed in 2016. Construction will begin on Building #3 in Fall 2016.
Who is the developer for Phase 3?
The developer for Phase 3 is First Street Development II, L.L.C. Bob Rasmussen, Philip Corcoran, Charles Wolande, Keith Kotche, Phillip Wilmington, and Ed Levato are members of this development team.
When will construction continue on the other phases of the project?
The timeline to complete Phases 4 and 5 is not known.
How can I keep informed about this project?
Plans for the project are available for viewing on this website and and may also be viewed at City Hall.