Construction is underway for the new development of commercial space and housing at the long-struggling Crystal Court shopping center in Crystal Lake.
The mixed-use development, called Water’s Edge, started construction last week on more than 40,000 square feet of retail and restaurant spaces, open public areas and 260 units of housing, the city of Crystal Lake said in a news release.
The project, developed by Heartland Real Estate Partners, will be the largest in the city, according to the release.
The city council approved the project in August. The development totals 30 acres off Route 14 adjacent to Three Oaks Recreation Area. It is expected to cost about $75 million, Heartland Real Estate Partners Managing Principal Tim Grogan said.
Heartland can receive up to $14 million in reimbursements from an economic incentive package approved by city council.
Grogan said talks with certain restaurants are in the works, but he wouldn’t name any until leases are signed.
The plan is to create townhouses with 144 one-bedroom units and 96 two-bedroom units, according to city documents. Residents will have access to a pool, pickleball courts, sand volleyball courts and a clubhouse. An outdoor public area will have an overlook facing North Lake and a public art installation.
Tim Grogan of Heartland Real Estate Partners, right, and Crystal Lake Mayor Haig Haleblian talk during a groundbreaking event last week for the 30-acre Water’s Edge development.
– Gregory Shaver/Shaw Media
Crystal Lake Mayor Haig Haleblian said the city has been waiting 15 years for development to happen at the location.
“This is what 30 acres looks like. Thirty acres of development. Thirty acres of the future,” he said.
Developers plan to complete sewer and waste management underground in the winter and lay down foundations in the spring. Tenants could be moving in as soon as next fall, Grogan said.
The building occupied by Jimmy John’s will remain for now, but the plan is to demolish it in early 2026 “if not sooner,” Grogan said.
“We’re working with them trying to find them a different home,” Grogan said. “But they’ll be here for a while.”
The homes and retail buildings are the first phase of the development, anticipated to be completed by May 2026.
The second phase could have more retail space and townhouses or a hotel on the east side of the property, Grogan said.
Decisions will be made depending how much demand there is after the first phase, he added.
Grogan said more retail tenants will show interest now the project is actively under construction.
“Now that they see that we’re actually moving dirt, it gives a little bit more sense of urgency,” he said.
Heartland is a real estate development firm based in Chicago. The company has created mixed-use developments across the country similar to the Water’s Edge proposal, including the Algonquin Square complex in Algonquin.
Haleblian said he was eager to develop the area, but the city took its time to choose the right developer to work with to create an “iconic” project.
“We had our eye on the prize and we got the prize,” Haleblian said.