40-unit affordable apartment plan in Arlington Heights finds detractors and supporters

Neighbors of a proposed 40-unit affordable housing complex on Rand Road in Arlington Heights say the redevelopment would bring too much density and traffic to their already congested neighborhood.

But supporters who also showed up to a community meeting this week said the proposed Crescent Place apartments would provide much-needed housing to lower-income workers in the area who have found it difficult to find a place nearby to live.

Housing Trust Group, a Miami-based national developer of affordable housing, plans to build the four-story, 45,000-square-foot apartment building at 310 W. Rand Road with Northlake-based Turnstone Development Corp.

After receiving unanimous recommendations of approval from the village's housing, design and plan commissions, the latter panel said the developers needed to host another community meeting before going to the village board, which will determine whether to rezone the property from a business to residential district, among other requested approvals.

All one- and two-bedroom apartments would be priced at or below market rates: 32 units would be rented to those making no more than 60% of the area median income - rents of $800 to $900 for a one-bedroom, and $1,100 to $1,200 for a two-bedroom - and eight one-bedroom units would be for those making at or below 30% of area median income, with rents of $400 to $500.

Those cheaper units could be suited for a McDonald's employee making $10 an hour or a school bus driver making $20 an hour, the developers said at the meeting Tuesday night, held at The Arboretum Club in Buffalo Grove.

"There's a lot of misconception about what is affordable housing," said Jake Zunamon, senior vice president of development at Housing Trust Group. "Affordable housing just means that it's affordable to people that make 60% of the median income. It doesn't mean that it's bad housing or that it's substandard housing."

"I think there's a ton of folks in the community that work here that can't live here," Zunamon said.

But neighbors say the apartment complex would be too dense for a neighborhood that's already home to the massive Stonebridge apartment complex, churches, schools, day care centers, a memory care facility and shops.

Many in the crowd of about 75 peppered the development team with questions while arguing the building would hurt their property values, increase traffic and flooding.

"This is not an issue of not-in-my-backyard," Gail Galster said. "It's an issue that my backyard is crowded."

While the village's elected officials will ultimately determine if the project is a go or not, it does have the support of the community development department staff, who wrote in a recent report that Crescent Place would "comply with several of the goals and policies within the (village's) comprehensive plan, provide a product that is underserved in the current market, and provide a viable use on a site that is not ideal for commercial uses as allowed under the current zoning."

The developers are under contract with Stonebridge Real Estate Co., led by Maria Magnus, to buy the 2.5-acre parcel. The vacant site housed a restaurant some two decades ago but has been a Christmas tree lot in recent years.

The $16 million development is set to receive $15 million in funds from the Illinois Housing Development Authority and $1 million from Cook County, and that arrangement requires the apartments to remain affordable for at least 30 years.

The project is set to go to the village board Sept. 20. If approved, construction would begin in April or May 2022.

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