Plans for a luxury rental community on the former Kelly's Day Camp and surrounding property adjoining Route 45 in Vernon Hills have received an informal OK from the village board.
A formal decision on preliminary approvals for the subdivision, site and landscaping plans and architectural drawings for The Oaks of Vernon Hills is expected Jan. 22, ending about a year of review and adjustments for the 31-acre project.
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The property, which includes the former Leikam Tap, renowned locally for its hamburgers, received village approval in 2007 for office/warehouse uses, but that never materialized. The land will be rezoned for multifamily use, with the new plan calling for 256 apartments and 48 rowhomes in 17 buildings.
"That's where the market is now, that's where the market is headed," said Warren James, a principal with Kinzie Real Estate Group of Chicago. Kinzie is partnering with Hamilton Partners Inc., which has owned the land abutting the Corporate Woods business park for several years.
"There's been such a dearth of apartment construction in the suburbs, especially in Lake County. There's an incredible unmet need," James said.
Anticipated rents would range from $1,275 per month for a one-bedroom apartment to $2,500 a month for the three-bedroom rowhome, according to James.
The development also would feature a 6,000-square-foot clubhouse with pool, exercise and meeting rooms. About an acre and a half of woods along Route 45 would be preserved and protected, and a two-acre commercial spot at the entrance to the community is consistent with the original Hamilton Partners plan.
Kinzie would receive variations from the building code for height and construction techniques.
"It's just a substitution of materials but it's not a lessening of the fire separation requirements at all," said John Kalmar, assistant village manager. "It's just using different materials and techniques."
Potential traffic issues on already congested Route 45 were among the chief concerns of village officials, but studies showed traffic signals were not warranted. The main entrance would be at Route 45 and Writer Court.
"What the signals would have done was close up any traffic gaps you have currently to let people out," Kalmar said.
In recent weeks, Kinzie contracted to buy adjoining property that would connect to Forest Edge Drive. It would allow for an eastern access that would not impact Route 45, and would eliminate the need for a right in/right out access on Route 45 across from the Sanctuary Pointe subdivision.
"Traffic was one of the major issues. This land use has substantially less impact than the previously approved office use," James said.
Ordinances allowing the property to be rezoned and allowing for a mixed use development will be presented at the time final approvals for landscaping, engineering and other aspects of the project are sought.
James said construction could start this summer.
"Our expectation is it will take about two years to build out but it will be a continuous process," he said. "We think it's an ideal location and an appropriate land use."