New strip mall planned for McHenry

McHENRY – The city might have a new strip mall on Front Street.

Thomas Grieco, the owner of 3 acres at 305 N. Front St., between the Fountain Shoppes Shopping Center and the Warsaw Inn Restaurant, hopes to build a retail strip mall and a mini-warehouse self-storage facility.

According to city documents, there would be 8,000 square feet of retail space and 13,560 square feet of self-storage space for 230 mini-storage units. There also would be a drive-through lane as part of the property.

Grieco is asking the city to grant two variances. The lot is 197 feet wide, but the city ordinance requires a minimum lot width of 200 feet. City staff has no concerns about granting that variance.

“It’s an existing lot; they couldn’t make it wider if they wanted,” said Doug Martin, deputy city administrator.

Also, city zoning allows only one main building per zoning lot. The proposed development would have six buildings: one for the strip mall visible from Front Street and five for the mini-warehouse buildings.

The mini-warehouses would be adjacent to vacant property toward the rear of the lot.

City staff believes that it’s unrealistic for the entire property to be used for retail because of its 670-foot length, according to memo from Martin to the City Council.

Martin did not have an estimated cost of the project. If the conditional-use permits are approved, the project needs to go through building permit process and engineering process.

The project probably would take six to nine months to complete, Martin estimated. He did not have a planned start date.

Phone calls to Grieco and his attorney Michael Poper were not returned.

Martin said he’s not overly concerned about the possibility of another empty strip mall.

“The proposed building is not very large,” he said. “Usually smaller retail buildings fill up better than larger buildings. It’s on a major route [and] close to the road. ... The proposed drive-through makes the building more marketable.”

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