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Work wrapping up on DeKalb's Cornerstone development

Residents to start moving into 51-apartment building in early August

DeKALB – Developer John Pappas walked through the Cornerstone construction site Friday as contractors continued to work on the project’s finishing touches.

Only weeks remain until people begin to move into the 51-apartment building near the intersection of First Street and Lincoln Highway, but there still is much to do. The elevator is awaiting state inspection, the halls Pappas traversed do not have flooring, and landscaping work is still needed in the building’s courtyard.

But a couple of units in the building have been finished for the benefit of brokers and interested businesses this weekend, Pappas said.

“It’s Gold Coast living,” Pappas said. “We brought it to DeKalb.”

The City Council pitched in public funds to help make the project a reality, committing up to $3 million in tax increment financing incentives to the $7.5 million project, which included the demolition of buildings.

Pappas said the top floors of the new apartment building are nearly completed, and appliances were being installed in the one-bedroom units. He said there are two different layouts for the apartments, which will be fully furnished, with washer and dryer and individual electrical panels.

Pappas said the units will rent for between $1,275 and $1,450 a month, which includes utilities, cable, internet and access to amenities including a 24-hour fitness center.

Pappas said parking and landscaping work is set to be complete by July 24. Out of 180 applicants so far, Pappas said, the 51 selected residents will move into their apartments between Aug. 1 and 15.

Pappas said everyone who fits the resident requirements to live in the building is eligible to apply. He said students who want to live in the units would need to have their parents co-sign their lease; if the applicant is not a student, he said, they need to have a salary of $45,000 a year with a credit score above 650.

Pappas said other amenities include a hospitality room for entertaining guests. He said there will also be a computer center available for residents who happen to be students who need the space to study.

Pappas said guests will be able to enter the building only if residents buzz them in. He said the resident parking lot will be lit 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“Safety is our No. 1 priority in this contract,” Pappas said.

Pappas said all of the building’s business spaces are occupied. Barb City Bagels, which started moving into the space in May after its old location was torn down to make way for the parking lot, will open Saturday in its new space.

Pappas said a tavern-style restaurant is scheduled to open in the building in the fall, and the neighboring nail salon should open in three months. He said build-out approval requests for both spaces will be submitted to the city next week.

Next on the docket is the Plaza DeKalb project, which is anticipated to cost $6 million and will include 21 furnished residential suites on three floors above a Mediterranean grocery store. Pappas initially bought the properties at 203, 209, 223 and 229 E. Lincoln Highway for more than $1.2 million with plans to combine them into the mixed-use building. The city has agreed to contribute $1.9 million in TIF funding for that project, which has an estimated total cost of $6 million.

Pappas said the two penthouses are finished and the four-story apartment building is expected to be completed next spring.

DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith said that he’s expecting new businesses will be drawn to the area by the excitement and the new residents that the two developments will bring. He said he’s hoping for both developments to bring in a mixed bag of clientele, from graduate students and young professionals to retired folks who want to be within walking distance of downtown businesses and public transportation.

“In the long run, this is going to be a project where we can look back and think this was TIF dollars well spent and a catalyst of many better things happening to DeKalb,” Smith said.

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