While agreeing with the need, Vernon Hills officials have issues with a proposal for a 64-bed facility serving seniors with Alzheimer's on the former Leikam's Tap property on Route 45.
During an informal work session Tuesday, trustees did not dismiss outright the plan by BridgeCare LLC of McLean, Va., but questioned the look of the building and the probable cost of care, which could reach $5,000 to $6,000 a month.
Village Trustee Cindy Hebda said she didn't like the proposed building design but had a deeper concern. Hebda, has elderly parents and has spoken out in the past about the need for assisted care facilities.
"Give me a product that's affordable," she said. "Nobody can afford $6,000 a month."
Hebda said a similar facility that opened in Vernon Hills a few years ago is about three-quarters full.
"The problem is people can't afford it," she said.
As is often the case with various developments, BridgeCare appeared before the village board meeting as a committee of the whole to present its concept plan and get feedback before beginning the detailed review process in advance of an official vote.
BridgeCare wants to build a two-story facility on the former Leikam's Tap property, but it would need to be rezoned from office uses.
The area is west of and adjacent to the former Kelly's Day Camp. Both are owned by Hamilton Partners and the Kelly's parcel is in the village review process for a luxury rental community comprised of 304 apartments in 16 buildings proposed by Kinzie Real Estate Group LLC of Chicago.
"We're a new company but we're not new to assisted living," said Jay Hicks, senior vice president for BridgeCare.
The individuals who formed and managed the company are industry veterans associated with Somerford Corp., and Manor Care, Inc., a leading provider of private-pay skilled nursing care, he explained.
Hicks said analysis showed there was "room for more product of this nature" in the Chicago area and that Vernon Hills was near one of those gaps.
"We're happy to take suggestions and work with you on the architecture," Hicks told the board.
But price would be another matter. He said he didn't have a precise number but estimated potential monthly costs at $5,000 or more.
"Obviously, this isn't an option for everybody," he said.
Mayor Roger Byrne said he didn't have a problem with the company coming to town.
"A lot of us can't afford it but that doesn't mean there aren't 64 people in the area or town who can," he said.
Trustee Jim Schultz said there is a need for assisted living in the $2,000 to $2,500 per month range but fees of $5,000 to $6,000 are out of reach for many. "I think you really need to go back to the drawing board," he told Hicks.
Whether the company will pursue the plan is unknown.
"We'll see what we can do," Hicks said after the meeting.
"Architecturally, we're happy to work with them. Affordability is a larger issue that goes beyond BridgeCare and this application."