The Downtown TCF Bank Site Development Proposal

At first blush this looks very appealing…

On Monday August 4, 2008, the Plan Commission approved a proposal by Downers Grove Village Square LLC (16 W 343 83rd Street Burr Ridge, IL 60527) to build a totally new building on the site of the now closed downtown TCF Bank.

Peter Burdi, an attorney and of Pete Highland Realty Ltd. of Chicago, a real estate firm, is listed as the owner. He has brought in Harold Liesenfelt as the GC on the development.

Harold C. Liesenfelt is a name new to Downers Grove residents. He is the owner of Downers Grove Village Square, LLC. He has one company, Atlantis South Investment Corporation, that has been in existence since 2003, incorporated in Florida, and through that he is owner of Chateaux Custom Homes, Inc., also incorporated in Florida. All three companies are based in his current hometown of Burr Ridge, IL.

Harold C. Liesenfelt’s main job, though, is as President of Provencal Builders, Inc., a 35 year old company that has projects ranging from high end custom homes, to english manor themed homes like those in Burr Ridge’s Fieldstone Club (at Plainfield Road and County Line Road), to middle income townhomes in Bolingbrook like Wooded Creek, to their most recent downtown Riverside IL mixed use development. Mr. Liesenfelt appears to also have one project under his belt in Florida. In 2002, Chateaux Custom Homes, Inc. was formed and bought this property for $1.12 million. As GC’s (General Contractors) they renovated and updated the property, and put it back on the market for a cool $6.5 million.

The project (starts on page 21 here):

  • meets every requirement for the DT zoned parcel
  • matches 100% with density and land use requirements
  • has extensive underground parking, larger than the building itself
  • has first floor retail space
  • is on the edge of downtown next to another six story building.
  • asks for no variances
  • does not need village money

There’s a lot right with this. For what appears to be a first time DG commercial project developer, Downers Grove Village Square has come in with a solid proposal that seems well thought out, and designed with our codes and regulations in mind. Being on the edge of downtown means it doesn’t mess with the “small town” downtown.

Stormwater detention is via the always dubious pipes rather than proper underground cisterns. With a complete underground garage providing 84 parking spaces, a cistern system would allow for more storage in a smaller footprint. They say they will, however, provide manhole cover access to each pipe, in contrast to other developments where they have no idea how the pipes will get their required cleaning/jetting that keeps them from clogging up and becoming useless. Sidewalk access during construction and parking during construction were concerns, but Stan Popovich of the Planning Department seemed abreast of the topics, and committed the Planning Department to also being good watchdogs, and if needed, enforcers to make sure things stay within guidelines. And based on the proposal, the developer seemed to want to be a good partner.

DG residents have had enough of developers that get a project approved then do whatever they please; here’s to hoping these guys are the real deal. The proof is of course in the pudding, but a good first project here will mean welcoming arms for the next.

The building, by virtue of being 70′ tall, will be all steel and masonry construction. Windows will be custom featured according to direction: south facing will be low E, north side (track facing) will be designed to block sound from trains. The entire building will aiming for Gold LEED Certification, which, if they succeed, will be the first such building in the downtown area.

In short, these newcomers may raise the bar considerably for succeeding projects. If only they had been the first. Pretty much completely within code and bulk requirements, energy efficient and extra insulated, and built from local materials procured locally (N. IL and SE WI).

You could tell the Plan Commission was pleased to see a project like this; more than one commented how this was the first project in a long time where they did not have to wrestle with variances and requests outside of code and bulk requirements during their finding of facts. The development team even went so far as to build a full 3D model of the proposal so everyone could see exactly what it would look like. That just flat out makes sense if you’re a serious developer; it shows you’re serious, and gives the observer a true idea of scale, coverage, and setback. As near as I recall, another first in the DG development arena.

Contrast that with Bradford 63rd LLC’s development proposal, in which locals with a knowledge of DG, it’s codes and ordinances, came in with a proposal that meets almost no requirements, and instead tries to bull its way through to approval.

There’s still a lot of if’s, but if they stay on track this should be a good addition to downtown. And if they can pull it off, we should accept no less from the next developer.

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One Response to “The Downtown TCF Bank Site Development Proposal”

  1. John Schofield Says:

    It is encouraging to see a proposal that seeks neither exceptions nor subsidies.


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