Giesche Shoes closed its doors in 2014 and since then Glen Ellyn has seen three different proposals come forward attempting to re-shape the space at the corner of Main and Hillside. The first two proposals fizzled out (the most recent being in November), so hopefully this third proposal can navigate around the missteps of the first two.
The new proposal comes from GSP Development and features 107 luxury apartments, new commercial space, and a new parking deck. The main difference between the last proposal and this newest one is that the former planned to use the existing Giesche building, while the new development plans to demolish everything and start from scratch. That includes eliminating the current parking lot which is home to 134 parking spaces. In the newest proposal, 147 public parking spaces would be available on the first floor of a new parking deck, with 142 spots on the second floor reserved for residents. Also included is 5,300 square feet of commercial space on the first floor.
At first glace I think this proposal makes a lot of sense for Glen Ellyn and it’s residents. Downtown parking will receive a somewhat negligible net increase of 13 parking spaces, which may not be saying much but that’s 13 less people circling around the block multiple times in search of a parking space. That is, if you aren’t fortunate enough to live within walking distance of town.
The luxury of living within walking distance of downtown is what makes North Glen Ellyn property so sought after, and is one of the main driving factors for the premium in price a buyer will have to pay the closer a house is to town.
This is why I love the idea of adding 107 luxury apartments right in the heart of downtown. While I’d prefer condos to apartments, the demand will be there no matter what the housing is. Rental demand has continued to increase year over year, and with it rental prices have also continued to inflate at a higher than normal pace. With an overall shortage of available inventory to buy, new housing of any kind would be welcomed.
In the time since Giesche’s went out of business, downtown Glen Ellyn has been revitalized by a number of new restaurants. In November of 2014, A Toda Madre first opened it’s doors and has delighted the bellies of many ever since. Fire + Wine, the #1 Glen Ellyn restaurant on Trip Advisor, was just two years old when Giesche’s closed, and was still establishing itself as a must-dine option. Mash + Mash has been downtown for just over a year now which is hard to believe, and new Cajun inspired restaurant and cocktail bar, Rue, also opened its doors last year to positive reviews. Not to mention McMae’s on Main which only recently opened up last December (thumbs up so far on the wings), as well as Main Street Pub which started offering its wide selection of premium burgers in 2015.
The picture I’m trying to paint is that the downtown Glen Ellyn that exists now, (and in the future with Two Hound, Nobel House and Sushi Ukai) looks much different than the old downtown Glen Ellyn where you could still walk into a retail store to buy a new pair of sneakers. I believe the more modernized downtown will benefit from whatever project ultimately goes up at the Giesche site, and since it’s already been four years, I’m perfectly fine with the village taking its time to determine the right course of action moving forward.
A parking deck and luxury apartments don’t sound quite as appealing as a new restaurant, cafe and banquet hall, but hey maybe the 5,300 square feet of commercial space will turn into something fun.