Top-tier apartments proposed for unfinished Libertyville building

Further review will be needed, but Libertyville officials favorably regard a plan to finish the long-vacant upper floors of a prominent downtown building with high-end apartments.

Chicago-based Cedar Street Co. is proposing 34 apartments for the second and third floors of the Manchester Square building at the southwest corner of Lake Street and Milwaukee Avenue. The project represents an investment of $12.5 million and is expected to fetch top rents from older, single affluent tenants, company officials said.

“I don't think they'll have any problem whatsoever renting it out,” Mayor Terry Weppler said. “It's good for the downtown.”

Cedar Street bought the property last November out of receivership for $7.15 million and submitted plans with the village in June.

The original plan was for 40 apartments but that number was reduced after the village plan commission recommended denial because it exceeded the allowed number of units and did not meet minimum parking requirements. Company officials made a revised pitch to the village board this week, saying they would use existing underground parking spaces and pay $15,000 each for 29 spaces, for a total of $435,000, in lieu of providing the required number.

The payment in lieu for parking is a standard option available to developers, although Cedar Street argued the village parking standards were too high for this project. The company proposed a one-to-one parking ratio because of the proximity to the downtown Metra station and other factors, but ultimately agreed to pay the difference.

“This project will not have the code-required parking demand,” Cedar Street representative Mark Heffron told the village board. “We're taking the responsibility to finish this building and doing it right.”

In 2006, the village approved plans with JTEH LLC to build a three-story mixed use building. The intent at the time was to build 14 large condos on the upper floors but that was revised to office space. The ground floor became home to Egg Harbor, Casa Bonita, Shakou Sushi and Tommy's Pizza but the rest of the project stalled.

Plans presented to the village board call for four studio; eight 1-bedroom; 12 two-bedroom and 10 three-bedroom units. Five units would be “affordable” though specific rents were not mentioned.

Consultant Steve Hovany, of Strategy Planning Associates in Schaumburg, told the board there was market demand for downtown apartments and that he expected they would “lease up overnight” and draw top rents. Tenants would add to village sales tax by shopping downtown, and by finishing the building, the property taxes would jump from $23,195 in 2007 to $310,000 next year, he added.

“I love this whole idea,” Trustee Drew Cullum said. “It's incumbent on all of us to get this done.”

Parking recently has become an issue because of growth and the success of downtown businesses. So, the board directed the revised Manchester plan be presented to the village's parking and plan commissions before taking a final vote.

“Parking is a really sensitive issue and rightfully so,” Trustee Rich Moras said.

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