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Pappas' Agora Tower project gets nod from P&Z commission, goes to council

DeKALB ­– The John Pappas-led project slated for the former Mooney building, now dubbed “Agora Tower,” got the go-ahead from DeKalb’s Planning and Zoning Commission and was praised as a good draw for young professionals coming to DeKalb.

Agora in ancient Greek means a public space used for assemblies or markets. The 113,000-square-foot mixed-used complex, which will sit on a 3-acre site that has been vacant since 2012, will be similar in style to Cornerstone DeKalb and Plaza DeKalb, also projects of DeKalb-based Pappas Development LLC.

The four-story building, located on the east side of North Fourth Street between Oak and Locust streets, will feature 94 high-end apartment units with retail and office space on the first floor.

The $13.8 million project was awarded $3 million in tax increment financing money by the city, and ­with the commission’s approval given, now heads to the council to OK a rezoning from light industrial to planned development commercial.

“If we’re not going to have this type of housing in DeKalb, people are not going to stay in town,” Pappas said during Wednesday’s commission meeting. “So if we want to be like St. Charles, Geneva, we have to offer alternative, clean, safe housing.”

Commissioners Katharina Barbe, David Castro, Vicki Buckley and chairman Christina Doe voted to give the plan a positive recommendation. Commissioner Ron Klein abstained because he works in the same law office as attorney Jeffrey Lewis, of Sycamore-based Klein, Stoddard, Buck & Lewis. Lewis represents P&G Development, a branch of Pappas Development.

Castro said Pappas recently gave him a tour of the Cornerstone building, and they discussed whether the city has a demand for high-end apartments.

“The question is market capacity: is there a market for this kind of apartment?” Castro said. “Are there more individuals that are willing to live downtown at this price point? I’m willing to take the risk and give a yes to this proposal.”

Doe said that in her work at Northern Illinois University, she frequently gets calls from new employees seeking the type of housing Pappas is offering.

“At the moment I think yes, there is a market for this based on what I’ve seen,” Doe said. “I think it would be interesting to talk to Nestle and Target and 3M and see what their thoughts are, but from what [NIU] hears, it’s supportive of this type of development.”

Site plans show the complex will offer one-bedroom and two-bedroom units, with furnished ones optional and in-unit washers and dryers. Pappas said amenities will include a movie theater room, fitness center, business center, meeting room, hospitality room and guest restrooms, and on-site professional management. Plans show 10% of the units will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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