A nursing home appears to be headed to Elgin's far west side, and at least one neighbor complained that's a far cry from the Trader Joe's grocery store residents were led to believe would be built there.
Elgin Memory Care would occupy 5 acres of a 19-acre vacant parcel on the southwest corner of Route 20 and Nesler Road, land that was slated for commercial development as part of the West Point Gardens subdivision.
The city council voted 8-1 Wednesday night to approve preliminary planned development for the nursing home. Councilman Rich Dunne casting the dissenting vote.
Nursing services become more needed as the population ages, Council members Terry Gavin and Tish Powell said.
Powell also pointed out the nursing home would be a "buffer" between the subdivision and future commercial development.
Resident Roger Schwartz said he feels he and his wife were misled when they bought their home on Garden Drive a few years ago. The builder showed them drawings of what was supposed to become a nice shopping center with a variety of small stores, he said.
"There was supposed to be a Trader Joe's and other stores there, something convenient for us," he said. "Then the economy went bad, and they blame that."
Schwartz said most of his neighbors oppose the nursing home, although only a couple spoke up at a recent planning and zoning commission meeting. "They don't feel it will change anything," he said.
Pat Curran, president of West Point Builders, said there was talk about a Trader Joe's, but the recession put a damper on all development plans.
"Our game plan has a commercial retail center there, and we think this facility will complement that well," he said.
The agreement approved by the city council requires the nursing home to contract with a private ambulance service for nonemergency medical calls. Dunne said the contract should have been in place before council members voted on the matter. "We need to make sure the citizens of Elgin are protected," he said.
Also, Elgin will not be getting any sales tax dollars from the nursing home, he said.
Councilman John Prigge pointed out other previously allowed uses for the property, such as a dance studio or funeral home, would have not generated sales taxes, either.
Elgin Memory Care project manager Alan Scimeca said he hopes the city will approve final plans so construction can start in July or August, and the facility open in summer 2014.
The agreement with the city includes a requirement to build out Shannon Parkway, now just a gravel road, which will facilitate future development, he said.
The parent company of Elgin Memory Care is Bright Oaks Group of Chicago, which is also working on building nursing homes in Aurora and Wood Dale, Scimeca said.