New development planned for downtown Carbondale


By Seth Richardson

Illinois Avenue in Carbondale may be getting a facelift.

The space located at 710 S. Illinois Ave. will see significant redevelopment in the coming years, if a development group’s plan to build a five-story complex on a two acre site now occupied by a popular bookstore proceeds.

Representing the developers, Doug Freichl and Michael Fitzgerald unveiled their plan to the Carbondale City Council on Tuesday.


“The opportunity came to us,” Freichl said in a later interview. “Someone had forwarded to us that the bookstore site was available. We thought that it would make a good location.”

The project will contain around 4,000 square feet of retail space on the ground level. Above the retail level, will be four stories of luxury rental housing to accommodate nearly 400 people. The rental units will include one, two and four-bedroom apartments with a courtyard in the middle. It will also include more than 100 parking spaces

Freichl said they chose the hybrid retail-residential model because of the high foot traffic in the area.

“Anytime you’re in a downtown or uptown area that is a little more urban like that, I think it addresses the location,” he said. “It’s a vibrant kind of pedestrian area with a lot of shops so it’s perfectly suited.”

The area was mutually beneficial to both the city and the developer, Fitzgerald said.

“Students are going to support not only the retail that’s on that site but they’re going to support the businesses right along the radius there,” he said. “It works well for not only the developer who’s investing in this but it’s really a benefit to the university and the community.”

Fitzgerald said they chose the five-story model based on cost-effective techniques.


“Two-story buildings might not have as much of an impact on a streetscape, but they require the same elevators and stairs, kind of those core elements multi-story buildings need,” he said. “And when you can go up more than a couple floors, it just makes it that much more efficient.”

He said he drew inspiration from the southern Illinois area in designing the building.

“Especially the rock formations with horizontal strata are beautiful characteristic of the region,” he said, “and contrasting that to these great, forested areas and the vertical natures of the trees and trees growing out of swamps. All that helped go into composing the façade of this building.”

Freichl said he expects the total cost of the development to be more than $20 million.

He said a sizeable portion of that could go to local contractors.

“We send it out for bid and whoever responds and is qualified gets the work,” Freichl said. “My guess is most of it (will go to local contractors). Maybe you get some guys from St. Louis coming over, but I think it will be a combination of local to the community and regional subcontractors.”

Freichl and Fitzgerald said the space is located in a tax-increment financing district. Freichl said they plan to apply for funds through a redevelopment agreement.

They plan to have the building open by fall of 2015.

The current occupant of the building, 710 Bookstore, has been a landmark for almost 50 years. Randy Johnson, the operator of the store, said he was exploring options for what to do during construction.

“We have a store at John A. Logan called Logan’s Discount Textbooks. We also operate a store in University Mall in conjunction with the athletic department. And we have three webpages. We can do quite a bit of our normal activity through those outlets during the construction period,” Johnson said.

Seth Richardson can be reached at [email protected]