Homeowners in the Princeton West subdivision in Elgin are worried about a new developer who might build the rest of the property as rental units, but the developer says the fears are unfounded.
Wilmette developer Cameel Halim of CH Ventures LLC, said he bought the undeveloped portion of the subdivision on Elgin's northeast side, including nine existing townhouses, from Bank of America about a year ago.
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He said he intends to built another 90 townhouses within the next two years.
Timothy Buelow, president of the Princeton West Condominium Association, said he's concerned about property values for the existing 109 units.
Buelow said the less-than-ideal location of the future units, at the end of a dead end street near Interstate 90, will attract low-income renters, possibly through the Section 8 federal housing program.
"Of course those people deserve a place to live, but that is a tremendous challenge for the homeowners," he said. "This is going to have a very large impact on our property values."
Halim, however, said the new townhouses will be high end.
If rented, they will go for $2,200 to $2,400 a month, higher than the average $1,750 rent currently charged by Princeton West homeowners, he said.
"They will have hardwood floors, a very fancy finish inside," Halim said. "It's not going to be a cheap rental."
Halim also said he is waiting for the results of a market study. "Originally we planned to do them as rental, but we may sell them," he said.
There's not much to be done from the city's perspective because development plans in Elgin typically don't specify a required form of ownership, Community Development Director Marc Mylott said. Princeton West was originally approved in 2003, he added.
Buelow also said he's concerned about a large number of rental units, whether high end or subsidized housing, flooding the market, which will cause rental prices to drop.
Drew Williams-Clark, principal planner for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, said there's a projected increase in demand for rentals across the nation.
"We anticipate that probably will be true in Elgin as well," he said.
Also, Elgin has little land available for development and redevelopment, he said.
"It would tend to indicate that you may have increased demand for rental and not enough capacity to meet that demand," he said.
Still, Buelow wants homeowners' voices heard. "There needs to be some public awareness about what is going on out there," he said.