Local Issues Director: Karen Gorz, The League of Women Voters of Glen Ellyn
Our chapter of the League follows major issues of interest to our membership; each area is the responsibility of a local issues director. They track legislation and items of particular timely interest. Our Observer Corps attends meetings to report back to the board and members on key issues.
LATEST REPORT: February, 2019
Local Affairs Report
On Tuesday, January 22nd, the Plan Commission held a workshop for the proposed Apex 400 mixed use development. The weather was inclement that evening but there were still approximately 55 members of the public in attendance. Staci Springer, Village Planning and Development Director gave the updated overview of the space. Aesthetic changes to the development since the January 8th meeting include a darker brick color to match the red brick at St. Petronille church, more brick façade around the garage entrance facing Hillside Avenue, and larger diameter trees on the parkway.
The developer from GSP Development then reviewed the details of the project. The 107 high-end apartment units will average 900 square feet, and will consist of 2 bedroom units, 1 bedroom units, and studios. The 1 bedrooms can be combined to make 3 bedroom units if needed. The demographic of the residents is expected to be 50% singles, 25% retirees, 25% young married people. The retail space on the ground floor may include one or more restaurants, and there are still plans for the parking garage to include spaces for both the residents and the public. The parking garage will be built first, to minimize the time the village loses the existing parking spaces. Estimated time for parking garage construction/disruption 6 months.
Then the Village financial consultant from Kane, McKenna and Associates explained the most important financing element of the project, the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) tool. If this project is approved, it would be two years of construction, plus a year of paying property taxes in arrears to see any TIF increment; projected to be 2022. Kane McKenna has vetted the developer’s proforma and believes the estimated return on costs of 6.71% is reasonable.
The Village trustees then asked questions about the project to Director Springer, the developer, and financial consultant. There was discussion about lowering the height of the cornice on top of the building, since the height of Apex 400 is 65 feet, which is already 20 feet above code and a variance will be required. There was also discussion about removing the public parking floor to make the development a four-story building instead of a five-story building. Public parking is currently driving the height of the building. The developer stated that he would not be interested in building a four-story structure since he would lose 11 units and his profit would go down. It was also clarified that the developer had no interest in turning the apartments into condos at any point. The units would be condo quality (separate HVAC systems etc) but not condos.
Next President McGinley invited the public to make their comments, limited to 3 minutes per person. The vast majority of the speakers were opposed to the project due to its scale. Many St. Petronille school parents were also concerned about safety during dropoff and pickup hours, during and after construction.
Other comments include:
1.)St. Pet’s Parish Council President, representing the parish, said that they supported the project and praised the Village and developer for the many meetings with the parish and their cooperation thus far. The remaining concerns of the parish that need to be allayed are:
- traffic studies need to be done by an outside consultant for school drop-off and pickup, and
- 3 swing gates to the entrances for the parking lots need to be installed and the Village should fund them.
2.) The attorney for the Joliet Diocese stated that they fully support the St. Pets parish and school’s position.
3.) “The zoning code should be preserved, sets a dangerous precedent.”
4.) “The structure sits at a high point in town and will look even taller”
5.) “Adjusting the height to 4 stories would make a big difference”
6.) “We are a healthy community; we don’t need this”
7.)“Glen Ellyn is a brand; the project should happen but aesthetic changes can be done to make it fit into the Glen Ellyn brand”
8.) “Five stories would work in other towns but not Glen Ellyn”
9.) “There is an online petition against the project and 437 Glen Ellyn residents have signed it”
The Village trustees then discussed the project among themselves. The 3 items they wanted to reach agreement on before the board meeting on January 28th are:
Whether to keep public parking in the building – they voted that public parking was important and they would keep it in this building, even though the new Civic Center parking lot will add 150-160 spaces.
Cornice Height of the building – Voted in favor of lowering to about 3 feet.
Architectural discussion – discussed ideas on how to make the building less imposing and more in keeping with the 1920’s architecture on the street.
Director Springer noted that the next steps will be a vote on the project at the Village Board Meeting on Monday, January 28th, and if approved, the developer will submit the final plans to the Planning Commission, who will vote again, then to the Village Board.
(At the Glen Ellyn Village Board Meeting on January 28, the board approved the Apex 400 plan for the Giesche property.)
Submitted By: Karen Gorz
All of the meetings and agenda details are on-line on the village website, villageofglenellyn.org.