Plans were modified for new affordable housing for seniors in Elgin after residents voiced their opposition, but some are still not appeased.
The nearly $25 million project by the Housing Authority of Elgin consists of rehabbing Central Park Tower, an 11-story, 150-unit building at 120 S. State St., and building a six-story building next door at 132 S. State St., where the housing authority owns a vacant building that will be demolished.
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No taxpayer money will be used for the project, HAE CEO Damon Duncan said Tuesday at a meeting of the Elgin planning and zoning commission. Commissioners recommended approval of the plan.
"It will be a great project and actually bring construction to downtown and some improvements to the corridor of State Street," Commissioner Beth Krueger said.
Initially, the new L-shaped building was designed with a bolder, reddish color scheme, but it was toned down with earth hues after negative feedback.
"We made our best efforts to be responsive to all stakeholder comments and concerns," said architect Johnathan Brinkley of Excel Engineering, in Fond du Lac, Wis.
Still, the plans could better reflect the overall style of the neighborhood, some said.
"If you'd come and meet the neighbors halfway, it would mean a lot to this community," Commissioner Anthony Pedote said.
"You have toned down the sign, toned down the scheme of the large blocks, and that really helps it," resident Pat Miller said. Still, "I don't feel this exterior of the building reflects and respects the community in which it's constructed."
A petition in support of the project signed by more than 165 residents was presented to the commission.
"We are so congested, we cannot move around. We need this environment to move around," Central Park Tower resident Marcleta Kyles said. "If you don't consider that a good idea, come visit us and then you'll see."
The new building is designed with jagged heights to serve as a visual transition between the residential homes and Central Park Tower, Brinkley said.
It will also have green roof space.
"The height is a transition, but the architecture has no merit in that respect," said resident George Doscher.
The project doesn't have enough on-site parking, said Chuck Keysor, a past president of the Near West Neighbors Association. "We believe it is adding undue stresses to our neighborhood," he said.
Right now, both dwellings -- the 11-story building and the existing building that will be demolished -- have 158 units. When the new building is built, there will be 164 units combined, Duncan said.