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  • Megann Horstead

Senior living community, town square could be coming to vacant land in Sugar Grove


The Sugar Grove Village Board of Trustees at its meeting Tuesday took a close look at development options for the Cope property, carefully considering the possibility of building a senior living community.


Bounded by Galena Boulevard, Route 30 and Sugar Grove Parkway, the Cope property is 133 acres of unincorporated, vacant farmland. Officials describe the site as the town’s center.


Past plans to develop the property were shelved when the real estate market collapsed in 2007.


Ron Cope, the owner and a managing partner for the Cope property, presented two concepts with variances for the board to review.


One scenario involves laying the groundwork for an industrial use.


Cope suggested the buildings could be architecturally satisfying, provide thousands of jobs and stir economic activity in the community.


The other concept, dubbed the Villages of Sugar Grove, would set up a senior housing community with an opportunity to develop a town square with mixed commercial uses.


Cope brought up the idea of constructing six to eight residences per acre, and wanted the board to advise and give consent as to which concept to explore further.


Several officials said they can get excited about the idea of developing a senior housing community with a town square.


Trustee Jen Konen said she has one reservation about the concept, with it only serving senior citizens ages 55 and older.


“I don’t know if there’s a way within the land use to segment it where you do create that, but what keeps the aging population youthful is the youth,” she said.


Cope tried to explain.


“If you want mixed-use that is mixed ages, that presents more of a difficulty,” he said.



Konen questioned if Cope is prepared to start development of both the residential project and town square simultaneously.


Cope explained that unless the village can demonstrate that its population would gravitate to the new developments, the people who develop retail aren’t going to pursue those opportunities immediately.


Konen said her fear is the town square part of the concept may not materialize, if both components are not developed simultaneously.


Village President Sean Michels shared that sentiment, saying a burden could be created if commercial uses do not come on line.


“As you add the residents, you’re adding services,” he said.


Cope said the idea is to bring on line something different, and the senior living community could be a catalyst for further development.


The board came to a consensus recommending the village look into developing a senior housing community with a town square comprised of mixed commercial uses.


Project leaders have several required steps to make the development a reality. That includes annexation and zoning hearings and the submittal of development plans.


Cope said he plans to share input received from the village board with Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis (CBRE) Group, a real estate firm, and is aware there are a few senior housing communities that may have interest in the property.


Traffic signal update


Also at the meeting, the board authorized a professional services agreement with EEI for phase I engineering for a traffic signal at Park Avenue and Sugar Grove Parkway.


“I think another limiting factor is the urgency to get this done because of the severe accidents that have occurred at this intersection,” Michels said.