ELMHURST – The six-story, 165-unit apartment complex development slated to be built at 100 N. Addison Ave. is one step closer to reality.
The City Council on Monday voted to approve a redevelopment agreement with developer Opus to move forward with a $53 million mixed-use project that will bring up to 165 “retail luxury apartments” and somewhere between 7,600 and 11,000 square feet of retail space to the city. The site was formerly occupied by a US Bank branch at the northwest corner of Addison Avenue and First Street, directly adjacent to the Metra train tracks.
The project, which was originally approved in April 2016, will now move forward with $1.2 million in tax increment financing funds. That amount includes $400,000 for environmental remediation, apparently the result of chemicals from a laundromat that once occupied a portion of the property.
The project will also include a “pocket park,” a small developed green space that will remain city property, and will include 199 parking spaces for the residents of the building.
According to Alderman Scott Levin, chairman of the Development, Planning and Zoning Committee, the developer did agree to some conditions that have the potential to return some of the granted funds back to the city.
“If there’s a savings in construction costs, we save dollar for dollar in savings,” Levin said. “If the profits go above 13 percent, then we get money back on that, too.”
Levin also pointed to other ways that the agreement protects taxpayers.
“Opus is agreeing they can’t protest the tax bill for the remaining years of the TIF unless the assessment is inconsistent with similar properties, and they have written consent from the city, so we always protect against someone getting money and appealing to lower their property tax bill,” he said.
The city will also relocate underground utilities at the site at an estimated cost of $310,000.
Concerns about design guideliness
Alderman Dannee Polomsky quickly took the project to task for failing to comply with established architectural guidelines for the downtown, concerns echoed by Aldermen Bob Dunn, Marti Deuter and Michael Bram.
“I’m glad to see that there is a clawback in this agreement, but I have concerns about this property, as Alderman Polomsky said, I don’t believe they’re following out design guidelines, the architectural elements that we’re really stressing in our downtown plan, the lack of retail on the entire first floor, that’s an opportunity to enhance the property and the value to the city,” Dunn said. “I think the applicant did a lot of the things they wanted to do, but I feel they fell short in some of these areas.”
Alderman Mark Mulliner, vice chairman of the DPZ Committee, rebutted concerns by focusing on the future tax benefits of having such a large development downtown.
“We’re going to take this property value from practically nothing, I couldn’t tell you the exact dollar amount right now, but for all practical purposes, nothing, to a building that’s going to be worth $53 million,” Mulliner said. “That’s going to be the value of what they’re building, that’s the construction costs, so now when we go out and figure out what it’s actually valued at, we know it’s going to be valued more than that, so the amount of return to the citizens is phenomenal.
“We’re doing this economic development to keep the taxpayers’ taxes low at home … these dollars help us keep those dollars low,” Mulliner continued. “They’re putting $53 million into this project. That’s a lot of money. It’s going to be a good return for us over the lifetime of this project.”
Levin and Alderman Kevin York also pointed to the appeal of having so many new residents downtown.
“The value of having probably 200 people downtown as a result of this project is huge to the downtown area, with minimal impact on parks and schools,” York said. “It’s going to be a very friendly development to the downtown area.”
How they voted
The agreement passed on a 9-4 voted as Bram, Deuter, Dunn and Polomsky ultimately voted against the development. Alderman Patrick Wagner was not in attendance and the remainder of the board voted in favor.