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updated: 7/5/2011 9:53 PM

Grayslake approves low-income apartment building

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Grayslake gave final approval Tuesday night for an apartment building geared toward low-income tenants 55 and older.

Village board trustees voted 5-1 in favor of the project that'll be built by Mercy Housing Lakefront. Mercy Housing received an amended special-use permit to construct the four-story, 70-unit building on Route 120 across from the village's namesake, Gray's Lake.

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Trustee Jeff Werfel was the lone dissenter, saying he's been against similar plans that surfaced in 2005 and 2007. He said he supports homes with older residents in mind, just not where Mercy Housing intends to build Lakefront Lodge.

In May, Grayslake's advisory zoning board of appeals issued a recommendation in favor of Mercy Housing's 55-and-older project with some stipulations. The panel reviewed Mercy Housing's plans over four sessions and 13 hours.

To address one of the conditions, Mercy Housing agreed to a 60-foot clock tower for the structure -- a reduction of 12 feet from the original plan.

Some residents objected to Mercy Housing's plans, citing concerns about building height, the potential to drive down home values, insufficient infrastructure and a lack of documented details submitted with village government.

Mercy Housing Lakefront President Cindy Holler has said the organization started laying groundwork to gain support for the Grayslake apartments more than a year ago in meetings with a coalition of church leaders from Lake County United.

After Tuesday night's vote, Mary Stewart-Wesson of St. Mary Catholic Church in Indian Creek expressed satisfaction with the village board's approval of Mercy Housing's plan. Stewart-Wesson is St. Mary's representative on Lake County United, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of churches, synagogues, mosques, civil and labor groups involved in issues such as affordable housing.

"We've worked on it for a long time," Stewart-Wesson said. "We all know seniors who need housing. They lost their jobs too soon."

Mercy Housing's development manager, Brad White, said he expects a closing on the site at Route 120 and Neville Drive will occur in August and construction to begin shortly thereafter. He said the apartment building should take about 12 months to complete.

Lakefront Lodge will serve residents with annual incomes of $15,800 to $31,600 for a one-person household. For two occupants, the income range is $18,010 to $36,100.

Rent is to range from $424 to $713 per month for single occupants of one-bedroom units. Mercy plans to charge $509 to $850 for two residents in an apartment with the corresponding number of bedrooms.

Plans call for 15 units to be set aside for special-needs seniors who receive Social Security disability checks. Mercy Housing representatives said property taxes will be paid at the same rate as other owners in the village, despite the organization's nonprofit status.

Some Lakefront Lodge residents could come from the Lake County Housing Authority, a public agency with low-income clients.

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