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Woodstock officials consider study on downtown housing, retail needs

Woodstock City Council members talk about downtown development during a walking tour in 2017 on the Square.
Woodstock City Council members talk about downtown development during a walking tour in 2017 on the Square.

The Woodstock City Council recently met to go over a housing and retail study aimed at helping officials plan downtown development.

Chicago-based consulting company Housel Lavigne completed the study, which focused on three areas downtown: the Woodstock Station subdivision, the former Richards Building Supply Co. site on Judd Street and the public works site off Washington Street.

The study took into consideration market demand for retail businesses and housing; housing costs and residents’ income levels; and the types of existing housing in the area.

Council member Mike Turner said he wanted the discussion to help form a vision for the downtown plan.

“These things are concepts,” he said. “Developers ultimately have to decide what works and what goes there. But they also know, then, what to bring us based upon what we are looking for. This kind of input gives us a sense of what is possible in the marketplace.”

The study recommends one of two scenarios. The first is a plan that would construct an additional 33 townhomes with a 60-unit apartment or condominium complex at the Woodstock Station site, which is near existing townhomes and the Metra train station north of the Square.

An alternative would be a complex with 25 townhomes, 18 single-family homes and 102 multifamily units. Walking paths could be incorporated into the latter plan, according to the study.

At the former lumber yard on Judd Street, there is the potential to create an apartment complex in two three-story buildings that would include 60 two- and three-bedroom units with indoor parking.

A grocery store on the public works site off Washington Street also has been recommended, but according to the study, that site instead could be used for 14 townhomes and 58 multifamily units in two buildings.

City Council members did not formally favor the concept plans or adopt them into the downtown development plan.

Council member Mark Saladin said there isn’t anything in the plans he is against, but he wanted to be cautious on taking a stance.

“My experience with development is that it comes together because you have someone interested in land, you have someone interested in selling that land, and you have a developer with an idea,” Saladin said. “Sometimes the city has to react to that. It can’t always be a pretty concept plan.”

In January, the City Council authorized the city manager to approve consulting services up to $21,000 for the downtown development plan.

Officials are expected to take a position on the recommendations during a future meeting. The council already has approved tentative financial incentives for two housing developers interested in the Woodstock Station and Richards Building Supply Co. sites.

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