ALGONQUIN – It’s been more than a decade in the making, but Riverside Plaza in Algonquin is done.
The mixed-used building, including 63 luxury apartments and forthcoming retail on the first floor, was celebrated Thursday with a grand opening ceremony – the end of a long, and at times rocky, road during the past 10 years on which the development process began, stopped and started again.
The four-story building is at 1 N. Main St. in Algonquin, next to Port Edward restaurant.
The village’s Community Development Director Russ Farnum said the project’s completion brings a great sense of relief.
“For a long time that building was a big embarrassment for the village, just standing half-finished at one of the biggest intersections in the county,” Farnum said.
It sat partially constructed and wrapped in Tyvek, earning the nickname “Tyvek Tower,” for two to three years after the multimillion-dollar project hit a couple of big snags relatively early in the process.
The village in 2006 selected Bruce Hawkins, former owner of Aspen Homebuilders, to construct 54 luxury condos, according to the village and past Northwest Herald reports.
Aspen Homebuilders went bankrupt two years later, effectively halting construction after the bank cut off funding.
Earlier, amid a hiatus in the project, the village had filed a lawsuit against the bank to either tear down the building or complete the exterior, Farnum said.
“So that it could be a weather-tight shell,” he explained. “And the way it was left was an attractive nuisance.”
Work started back up again after current developer John Breugelmans, of Riverside Plaza Developers LLC, took ownership of the building, settled the issue of the lawsuit with the village, and took over the project in 2011, Farnum said. The village approved Breugelmans’ idea to convert the condos into apartments in 2012 and work has proceeded since then.
“This has been frustrating for the board members and for a lot of the staff here because we didn’t finance the building or own it, so we [the village] had limited opportunities to get the project finished or torn down,” Farnum said.
Now that the residential portion is complete and already has more than 50 percent occupancy, he said village officials are excited, especially given the project’s alignment with future plans for downtown Algonquin.
“Our downtown study [adopted in 2012] showed that ... we need between 700 and 1,200 additional dwelling units. ... So this is 63 out of 700, which takes a good chunk out,” Farnum said, later adding, “This was the vision all along, to get some upscale dwelling units downtown.”
Breugelmans said the goal behind Riverside Plaza was to bring “the most beautiful apartment building in the entire area, both inside and out,” and later said he thought that was achieved with it being “well ahead of the market with regard to both design and quality.”
The units range from about 920 square feet to 1,820 square feet, the plaza’s general manager Cindi McDonald said.
In one of the larger units, she pointed out the modern feel, noting the hardwood floor and contemporary kitchen area. Rent ranges from about $1,498 to about $2,850, according to ForRent.com.
Renters began moving in at the end of last year, but the building was still undergoing work until recently, McDonald said.
Breugelmans said the space on the first floor is slated for a restaurant and a beauty salon, the names of which he would not disclose as negotiations are still underway.
For information on Riverside Plaza, visit www.riversideluxe.com.